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Last Updated: Friday, 13 August, 2004, 16:18 GMT 17:18 UK
Marchers 'will abide by ruling'
The Apprentice Boys march is due on Saturday
The Apprentice Boys march is due on Saturday

Members of a loyal order involved in a contentious parade in north Belfast have said they are angry but will abide by a Parades Commission ruling over the march.

The Apprentice Boys have said they will adhere to the determination that its members should be bussed past the flashpoint Ardoyne shops - in a mainly nationalist area.

The commission had previously ruled against the Ligoniel Walkers Club from walking past the shops at Ardoyne Road before being bussed to the main Apprentice Boys demonstration in Londonderry.

It has now decided to amend its decision and allow a single bus past the contentious area on Saturday.

While it said it would abide by the ruling, Apprentice Boys spokesman Tommy Cheevers said the commission had given in to threats.

"If we don't find a breakthrough, the residents will believe that just by issuing threats they can close the roads off to the loyal orders," he said.

About 350 officers will be used to police the ruling.

The commission said it had reviewed all the information about the parade and was "content that participants traverse the restricted part of the route by bus, which would be beneficial to the overall management of the parade.

"The commission hopes that the Parade Forum's offer of dialogue with residents of Ardoyne will enable a local accommodation to be reached in the case of future parades in this area."
Trouble followed a parade in Ardoyne in July

The August march has passed off without major incident in recent years, but events during the return leg of an Orange Order feeder parade on the Twelfth of July, hardened the mood against any loyal order parade.

The police have appealed to residents' groups and Sinn Fein to meet them to discuss future plans for policing parades in an attempt to reduce confusion and rumour.

Senior police sources have said they are keen to listen and outline their plans to find out the impact on local people.

Chief Superintendent Richard Russell said he hoped the Parades Commission's move would help to defuse tensions.

"The Apprentice Boys have said they will abide by the Parades Commission's determination and remain legal at all times and on the Ardoyne residents' front, they have said they will accept buses going down the road without creating any problems.

"So putting those two things together, if that feeder parade can pass off peacefully and those people can get to Derry, then I think they'll have a good day."

Nationalists in the Ardoyne area and Sinn Fein had said they would oppose Saturday's parade.

It followed incidents on 12 July when more than 20 police officers were injured after nationalist youths clashed with the security forces after supporters of the parade were allowed through the area.

The July parade had been restricted by the Parades Commission which ruled that only lodge members and marshals could take part in the parade back to Ballysillan as it passed the Ardoyne shops.

The police said they had acted in accordance with the ruling as the parade's supporters were only allowed up the road after the march had passed.

The government-appointed Parades Commission was set up in 1997 to make decisions on whether controversial parades should be restricted.

BBC NI's Shane Glynn reports
"The Apprentice Boys, instead of being forced to avoid the area completely, will be bussed past the Ardoyne shops "

BBC NI's Chris Buckler:
"Apprentice Boys spokesman Tommy Cheevers said the commission had given in to threats"

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