The Irish News is reporting that the Orange Order may put a contingency plan in place that would see all lodges in Belfast take a return route that takes them to the restricted section at Ardoyne (via paywall). According to the Irish News:
It is believed they [the Orange Order] are considering asking Orangemen to march home from the field along with the three north Belfast lodges banned from walking the Crumlin Road.
With perhaps little sense of irony the Grand Lodge issued a statement yesterday:
The ludicrous decision by the Parades Commission regarding the long established and legitimate return parade by three Ligoniel Lodges on the Twelfth evening has effectively signed the death warrant of this discredited and unaccountable quango. This antiquated and unelected body is clearly not content in merely stifling our proud Protestant culture and heritage; but increasingly by its actions is causing irreparable damage to community relations and a so-called shared future in north Belfast…Despite such unprecedented initiatives, the Parades Commission has opted to reward violence and notably the threat posed by dissident republicans. Who can forget the masked gunman, armed with an AK47 rifle, on the streets of Ardoyne last year? …In spite of obvious provocation, we would call on all not to be drawn into the trap being set by the commission and republicans. While violence may have closed this thoroughfare to a dignified parade; conversely, it will not open the road either.
It also talks up the recent talks over the Ardoyne parade, which only began last week, saying:
… recent genuine and sincere efforts by the County Grand Orange Lodge of Belfast to defuse tensions concerning Loyal Order parades in this part of the city. Ligoniel brethren took the bold and proactive decision to engage with nationalist residents following on from the publication of the comprehensive template, designed to address the issue of respect concerning St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church.
However, it was widely reported back in May that the Orders were putting the Ballysillan Park contingency in place, almost two months before it attempted to engage in the last minute talks (note there was a time restriction to the return leg last year). If it does proceed with plans to reroute all the Belfast lodges to Ballysillan Park, presumably even the Orders cannot feign innocence on a serious question that throws any pretence at non-violence out the window: how on earth do they think they will arrive at Ballysillan Park from the Crumlin Road other than by the forcing their way through at Ardoyne? Even a contingency plan of Ballysillan Park is an overt threat of violence, as much as marching the usual foot soldiers up to the top of the hill.
Hopefully, the supposed ‘contingency plan’ turns out to be little more than a bargaining chip with the Parades Commission that came to nothing.