Irish Republican News · October 1, 2016
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: Orange parade ‘returns’ after 3 years
Orange parade ‘returns’ after 3 years

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An Orange Order parade was forced through the greater Ardoyne area in north Belfast on Saturday morning, October 1, amid a military-style policing operation and a bitter war of words among nationalists.

PSNI armoured vehicles had lined the route from early this morning and helicopters hovered overhead as the massive security operation swung into place.

Loyalists cheered as hundreds of Orangemen made their way up the Crumlin Road, parading through the nationalist communities of Ardoyne, Mountainview and the Dales. A protest against the parade by the Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (GARC) was limited to 60 participants by the Parades Commission.

GARC spokesperson Damien ‘Dee’ Fennell said that the provocative Orange march had been “resurrected” by a deal between Sinn Fein and the loyalist paramilitary UVF. He said the it was something that “the people of this area thought was dead and gone”, and denied claims by Sinn Fein that it had local support.

The agreement between the Sinn Fein-supported Crumlin Ardoyne Residents’ Association (CARA) and three Orange lodges has deeply divided the community. GARC has claimed that 85% of residents are opposed to all Orange marches, and have accused Sinn Fein of “trampling over the rights of residents”.

“If there is widespread community support for this deal, then why is all this security needed?” Mr Fennell asked.

After three years of intimidation, this morning’s ‘return’ parade should see the final removal of the long-running campsite operated by loyalists at the Twaddell interface. The agreement also sees a “moratorium” placed on future return Twelfth parades in the area, in return for Sinn Fein’s support for outward parades.

Last night, a march and rally by nationalist residents brought several hundred onto the streets in a demonstration of support for GARC. Sinn Fein and clergymen had urged local residents to stay home and to support their agreement to allow the sectarian parade through.

GARC’s protest went ahead despite false reports and messages online that it had been cancelled. Mr Fennell said there had been a ‘dirty tricks’ operation, but that it had “failed miserably”.

“Not only have we proven a point that we can demonstrate peacefully as we always have done,” he said. “We’ve also proven that there is overwhelming support for GARC analysis and rejection by the the vast majority of residents for SF/UVF deal.”

Last night saw another heavy deployment of PSNI as the protest march and rally made its through the nationalist community. Protesters marched through Ardoyne before finally reaching PSNI lines at the Estoril Park and Balholm Drive where a short rally was held before dispersing.

Mr Fennell said: “Hundreds of residents turning out here tonight to reject that deal to protest against the continuation of ongoing parades dispels the myth put forward by Sinn Fein, the clergy and their friends within the state establishment that GARC has no support in this area”.

“GARC came out tonight peacefully and radically to display the opposition that exists to sectarian parades and this deal,” he said.

He also blasted restrictions placed on last night’s protest march by the Parades Commission as a “disgrace”.

“We have 250 loyalists parading through this area with the blessing of Sinn Fein,” he said. “And we’ve had several hundred residents restricted from part of their own area. After lobbying by Sinn Fein. I think it’s a disgrace and as the [previous] speaker put it, I think Sinn Fein has been bought by British gold.”

In response, Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly accused GARC of “provoking confrontation”.

“There are many genuine people who are exercised about the issue of Orange parades,” he said. “But there are also people associated with GARC who don’t want a resolution to parading and who are associated with anti-peace process political parties.

“It is Sinn Fein’s view we need less evening parades, not more. Our community does not need any more of our young people ending up in prison as happened following a similar parade some years ago.

“Sinn Fein believes the agreement is a huge step forward. It represents the best opportunity to resolve an issue once and for all, which has plagued this community over many, many years.”

In a statement issued in return, GARC said several of its members had received criminal records after Mr Kelly publicly called on people to demonstrate against Orange marches from the mid-90s onwards.

‘Where is Kelly’s call for Loyal Orders to withdraw their continued demands to march through this area?,” they asked.

“Sinn Fein are all over the place on this issue. It seems their hatred of anyone seeking to go against their appeasement policy is clouding their judgement regarding who is really responsible for the ongoing problem of unwanted sectarian parades - The Loyal Orders.”

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© 2016 Irish Republican News