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12 July 2010

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Orange Order parade in Ardoyne, plastic bullets, rioting – Sinn Féin responds

AFTER disturbances around the Orange Order parade through nationalist Ardoyne on Monday evening, the Twelfth, local north Belfast Assembly member Gerry Kelly said:

“The first thing to be said about what happened here this evening is that this situation was brought about by the insistence of the Orange Order to march through three nationalist areas as an add-on to their main parade and the decision of the Parades Commission to facilitate them in this. Only a few weeks ago, at the Tour of the North, the Parades Commission came to a different determination and we had a relatively peaceful parade.

“The rioting we witnessed this evening is wrong, counter-productive and should not have happened. The decision of the PSNI to fire plastic bullets was also wrong and unacceptable.

“This morning, residents from Mountainview, the Dales and Ardoyne held a peaceful and dignified protest at the morning parade. It was their intention to repeat this for the return parade. However, a number of small factions who had called for a mass mobilisation from outside this community moved onto the road four hours before the parade was due.

“All that was achieved by this was that it undermined local residents and prevented them holding their planned protest. But it is obvious by the small numbers involved that there was no mass mobilisation here this evening. Indeed, many of those who did turn up are the same anti-social elements who were involved in rioting at Broadway and North Queen Street last night.

“In fact, the rioting which took place here tonight did so after the Orange parade had passed. Residents of these areas do not want it. What they wanted was to protest peacefully against the sectarian parade being forced through their communities, not an excuse for anti-social elements to hijack cars, abuse local people and throw petrol bombs. And I would appeal to these people to return to their own areas and allow the people of Mountainview, the Dales and Ardoyne to get on with their lives.

“I would also appeal to the Orange Order to seriously consider whether, year after year, these are the headlines they want associated with their parades. Are they prepared for hundreds of thousands of pounds of scarce resources to be wasted on forcing a feeder parade through these communities?

“There are only a handful of Orange Order parades which are contentious. It is time that the loyal orders faced up to this reality and entered into dialogue with local residents to resolve these issues.”

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