A SENIOR Orange Order member has said that a long-standing agreement over parades between the Order and Ardoyne residents has collapsed.

It comes after Ligoniel Loyal Order applied to the Parades Commission to parade past Ardoyne on the evening of 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.  

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.

CARA said on Wednesday they have applied for a counter-protest and had hoped to "maintain improved community relations".

Spencer Beattie, County Grand Master of County Grand Orange Lodge of Belfast said the 2016 deal had collapsed.

"For nearly eight years, the Orange Order and its community partners within the local area of North Belfast have honoured its commitment to an agreement reached in 2016, which included a voluntary moratorium on applying for a return parade on the 12th of July," he stated.

"Hundreds of hours of work and dozens of face-to-face discussions have been undermined by CARA, who have weaponised the dialogue process to deny their Protestant neighbours the right to return home on the 12th of July.

"This cynical and malicious refusal to allow the three local Orange lodges and their Protestant neighbours the right to return home is a flagrant breach of the agreement and a blatant disregard for the most fundamental of human rights.

"Regrettably, this bad-faith dialogue on the part of CARA has meant a collapse of the 2016 parading agreement.

"The hypocrisy of republicans demanding the opening of peace gates just yards away from the 12th July parade route on the Crumlin Road, in the name of peace and reconciliation, while denying Protestants their right to return home through the use of the threat of violence, must not be tolerated.

"We remain resolute in our commitment to ensuring that the three local Orange Order lodges and the Protestant community’s right to return home is upheld, no matter the opposition or threat of violence."

In a statement a separate Ardoyne residents' group, the dissident-linked GARC, said that if the return parade is given the go ahead that they will "bring thousands on to the road to ensure no such Orange Order march takes place".

"It is best not to poke this particular sleeping bear," their statement concluded.

The Parades Commission is due to make a decision on the application for a return march by July 3.