Fears grow over ‘back door’ march
All eyes now on PSNI response to Apprentice Boys move

Fears are mounting that Cops may allow members of Saturday’s banned Apprentice Boys parade to walk past Ardoyne despite a Parades Commission ban.
Speculation has been mounting this week that the Ligoniel Walker Club would respond to the Parades Commission ban on the feeder parade by taking off their collarettes at Hesketh and walking down the footpath of the Crumlin Road. Some Apprentice Boys see this as a way to get around the ban.
A source in the Parades Commission said officials would be watching the police handling of the march after the PSNI overturned the July 12 ban on Orange Order supporters marching past Ardoyne.
That PSNI decision caused anger behind the scenes in the commission.
And this morning Apprentice Boys spokesman Tommy Cheevers insisted there would be no buses to take the loyal order to Derry from Hesketh.
However, there is the possibility they could board buses at Ballysillan, if they decide to turn back.
A meeting of the loyalist parades forum is to take place tonight including representatives of the Apprentice Boys.
The forum includes the UDA-linked UPRG, Protestant church leaders and loyal order members.
But all eyes will be on the PSNI over fears on the nationalist side that the Apprentice Boys will be escorted down the Crumlin Road as pedestrians.
In July the police caused outrage among the nationalist community after they forced through hundreds of Orange supporters, including the leadership of the UDA in North Belfast, despite a ban from the Parades Commission.
As Ardoyne, Mountainview and nationalist residents of the Crumlin Road were locked down by an army and police ring of steel, the loyalists were escorted up the Crumlin Road amid angry and bitter scenes.
That sparked rioting that led to some of the worst violence witnessed in the North for years.
A PSNI spokeswoman would only say the parade would be adequately policed, but refused to comment on operational matters and how many PSNI and British Army would be brought into the area on Saturday.
Tommy Cheevers refused to be drawn on the possibility of his members removing regalia and walking through the banned route.
“There will be no buses at Hesketh, but all options are on the table for tonight so I can’t confirm anything,” he said.
“The Ardoyne shops will be closed off to the Protestant community and we are now seeing that Irish republicanism want to ban all access to this community.”
Sinn Féin councillor for the area Margaret McClenaghan said the fear and distrust for the police on the nationalist side was palpable.
“Everyone is still fearful the Parades Commission will change the ruling. They are afraid that at a late stage they will do the same thing they did on the Springfield Road under pressure from the NIO.”
She said statements by the leadership of the Apprentice Boys in Derry had not been helpful
“Willie Hay has said there will be no trouble in Derry but significantly he said he didn’t know what was going to happen in Ligoniel.
“That’s 21,000 Apprentice Boys having a good day out in Derry but what does it mean for the nationalist people of North Belfast?”

Journalist:: Staff Reporter

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