Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

DebateNI home of Northern Ireland politics

Ardoyne impasse: 'Sectarian race to the bottom between unionist politicians and paramilitaries'

'Only sectarianism profits from the Ardoyne situation and the rule of law is undermined' says Sinn Fein's Declan Kearney

Orangemen during a stand-off with police on Woodvale Road, Belfast, close to the Ardoyne, after their protest march was re-routed by the Parades Commission during the Twelfth
Orangemen during a stand-off with police on Woodvale Road, Belfast, close to the Ardoyne, after their protest march was re-routed by the Parades Commission during the Twelfth

Instead of giving proper leadership this week to address the Ardoyne parade impasse, some in the Orange Order and political unionism chose to avoid the need for meaningful talks.

The sub text is a sectarian race to the bottom between unionist politicians and paramilitaries as they vie for votes and turf before next year’s elections.

They have made the Parades Commission, the rule of law and PSNI fair game.

Their continued defiance of the Commission determination since last July has put them and others within the unionist section of our community into a cul-de-sac.

They should come out of it and get into dialogue.

Talks without pre-conditions between the Orange Order and local residents could transform the current situation. No one need lose face.

However, to elevate the overturning of a legal determination by the Commission as a pre-condition, defies common sense. It is also contains the potential for more street unrest.

If the Order is serious about resolving this impasse it should engage immediately with residents.

A genuine initiative aimed at reducing community tensions and finding a resolution would be to move the protest camp away from the Ardoyne interface down the Woodvale Road, and to resume the talks, which ended in July.

Back in July, the Order agreed to renew dialogue with residents in September. It’s now October.

The cost of policing Orange Order and unionist defiance of the law currently equates to the salaries for over 160 nurses, and rising!

Only sectarianism profits from the Ardoyne impasse, and the rule of law is undermined.

There are no losers in good faith dialogue.

Leadership is required.

The Orange Order should do the right thing and begin talks again with local residents.

That would be a real initiative.

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