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Minister Flanagan welcomes North Belfast Parading Agreement

Minister Charles Flanagan, Press Releases, Ireland, 2016
- Minister commends spirit of cooperation and mutual respect
- Minister pays tribute to Orange Order and local residents 
 
The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan T.D., has welcomed today’s announcement of an agreement on parading and associated protests in the Crumlin Road and Twaddell area of North Belfast.
 
Minister Flanagan said:
 
"I welcome today’s announcement that a way forward has been found to resolve the difficulties that surround parades and associated protests in the Crumlin Road and Twaddell area of North Belfast.
 
“Expressions of place and identity can be very emotive and challenging.  I commend the spirit of cooperation and mutual respect that has allowed a common understanding to be developed on how these parades can be managed.
 
“I encourage the wider community to give this initiative its full support.
 
“I acknowledge the hard work in a spirit of genuine engagement and reconciliation by all those who were party to achieving this new approach.  
 
“I wish to pay tribute to those in the Orange Order and among local residents for their leadership and courage in achieving this agreement. I look forward to its full implementation in good faith and good neighbourliness.”
 
Ends
Press Office
23 September 2016
 
Note for Editors
This agreement will bring an end to a loyalist protest which began in July 2013 following a ruling by the Parades Commission which did not allow a return parade by three Orange Lodges past the Ardoyne shops interface.  The protest involved the establishment of a permanent camp on the junction of Twaddell Avenue and Crumlin Road in north Belfast, and nightly protest marches to the camp.
 
Policing the protest has been challenging, with a nightly police presence required.  There have been a number of attacks by dissident elements on the police at this interface, to no serious effect.  In a statement to the Northern Ireland Policing Board in July 2016, PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton estimated that the cost of policing the protest was in excess of £21 million over three years.
 
There have been a number of attempts since 2013 to mediate a resolution, including by church leaders, without success.  
 
This current process, led by figures in the Orange Order and local community leaders, was conducted in private.  It has been agreed that the Order can finish its 2013 parade with a parade past Ardoyne shops and that thereafter there would be no return parades without local agreement.  A community forum will be established to build better relations among all those who share this part of the Crumlin Road.