Tensions are growing in Belfast ahead of a controversial loyalist parade past Ardoyne tomorrow. Orangemen and their supporters are due to pass catholic homes on the Crumlin Road.

There are fears the march will lead to clashes between the police and republicans. A local residents' group has called on republicans across the North "to come to Ard­oyne and stand shoulder to shoulder with its inhabitants".

Last year, the march led to the worst rioting in the North in years. For three nights, local youths attacked the PSNI with petrol bombs and bricks. At the height of the trouble, shots were fired at police.

The Orangemen will march past the nationalist area twice tomorrow – in the morning, as they walk to Carlisle Circus to join the main Twelfth parade in Belfast, and on their
eve­ning return journey.

Paul Carson of the Greater Ardoyne residents' collective said: "We are sick, sore and tired of being treated as second-class citizens in our own community. We want a peaceful protest but history shows that unwelcome parades can bring unwelcome violence."

Last year's security operation in Ardoyne cost police almost £500,000.

Tens of thousands of Orangemen will take part in 18 demonstrations across the North.

Yesterday, Orangemen marched in Rossnowlagh, Co Donegal. Orange Order grand chaplain, the Rev Stanley Gamble, told the crowd that President McAleese must be praised for reaching out to the Orange tradition in the Republic.

Wishing her "every blessing in retirement", he said: "The next president needs to continue the good work of making Ireland a 'warm house' for Protestants and, who knows, maybe we will have another Irish protestant as president."