THERE is growing concern over rising community tensions in North Belfast after an Orange lodge again applied to parade past Ardoyne on July 12. 

The controversial return Twelfth parade past Ardoyne, Mountainview and the Dales was the scene of violent clashes in the past and has not taken place since 2016.  

Now Ligoniel Loyal Order has applied to the Parades Commission to parade the route on the evening of July 12.

The return parade at 6.30pm would depart Royal Avenue, passing through North Street, Shankill Road, Woodvale Road, Crumlin Road and finishing at Ligoniel Orange Hall. The application includes one band, the Pride of Ardoyne flute band and 90 participants.

In 2016, Crumlin Ardoyne Residents' Association (CARA) signed an agreement with the Ligoniel lodges with both sides making concessions that ended a long-running dispute over marching in the area, including no evening return parade past Ardoyne shops – which had been the scene of rioting and stand-offs over several years.

Last year, the Parades Commission rejected applications from Orange lodges to pass the area in the evening.

It ruled an application by a Ballysillan lodge to parade past Ardoyne shops showed an “egregious disregard” for the local agreement.

In response to the new Ligoniel Loyal Order's application, CARA have applied for a counter-protest 

“The people of the area have had peace and normality in their lives since 2016 and want that to continue into the future," the group said in a statement. “The loyal orders still have five morning parades which we agreed not to protest about.

“In line with the agreement we will be adhering to our part in that agreement. Cross community relations have been improving over the years and we very much hope that will continue.”

Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly said the development is “deeply concerning”.

“Since 2016, residents have enjoyed peace and some semblance of normality in their lives thanks to the agreement reached between the residents and the loyal orders, and a lot of good work has been done by community and voluntary workers to improve cross-community relations,” he said.

“I understand that CARA have lodged a protest application in opposition to this parade which we will support.

“Sinn Féin will continue to stand with residents in their opposition to this parade which contravenes the 2016 agreement, and we will be raising our serious concerns with the Parades Commission.”

SDLP councillor Carl Whyte added: “Residents have been clear that they do not want to see any parade on the Twelfth of July given what happened in the past. Any repeat of that is unthinkable.

“The agreement reached in 2016 must be respected and I’ll be making that view clear to the Parades Commission on behalf of local residents and the SDLP.”

A spokesperson for the Orange Order said that they would not be commenting “at this time”.