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26 June 2003 Edition

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Tense standoff after Tour of North parade

The Orange Order's 'Tour of the North' parade in North Belfast led to trouble and a five-hour standoff at Ardoyne on Friday night, 20 June.

Tension had been high in the area as nationalists, angered again that the Parades Commission gave permission for an Orange Parade to pass through a nationalist area, gathered to protest.

As the loyalist parade approached the junction of Woodvale Road and Crumlin Road, a huge number of crown forces' personnel moved in to encircle the nationalist protesters and protect the two Orange Lodges and bands as they made their way up the Crumlin Road.

At this point, some missiles were thrown by nationalist youths. However, the most intense trouble flared when a crowd of up to 100 loyalists, who had gathered at Twaddell Avenue, began throwing stones and bottles at the nationalist protesters. As the crown forces moved in, the loyalists attacked them too. The trouble, however, lasted only a few minutes.

It was as the trouble died down that the nationalist crowd were informed by the PSNI that they wanted the road cleared to allow a crowd of loyalists who had been at the Tour of the North to pass by the Ardoyne Shops.

An angry Gerry Kelly accused the PSNI of not fulfilling their duties as set out in the Parades Commission determination by attempting to force the followers through after the bands and Lodges, which was in breach of the determination.

At this point, angry residents blocked the road and a standoff ensued.

At one point during the standoff, a gang of loyalists, including members of the bands who had marched up the road, stormed through the mainly Catholic Summerdale Gardens shouting sectarian abuse at residents.

Apart from this incident, the rest of the night was quiet and the standoff came to a negotiated end, which saw the loyalists drive up the Crumlin Road, flanked by scores of PSNI Land Rovers.

Speaking to An Phoblacht, Gerry Kelly said that the compromise was the right one and he commended the residents who had stood their ground, saying the fact that the loyalist band supporters had not walked up the road was a victory for the residents of Ardoyne.
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An Phoblacht
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