Belfast Telegraph

Monday 15 September 2014

DebateNI home of Northern Ireland politics

Twaddell protesters in Ardoyne had a choice

The loyalist protest camp at Twaddell Avenue last year
The loyalist protest camp at Twaddell Avenue last year

Everyone knows the choices we make determine our future. This was the case when Ulster men and women choose to oppose Home Rule and later joined the Crown forces to defeat Hitler. They were positive choices, which produced a positive outcome.

The same is true today; the choices we make impact on our future. This was true almost 12 months ago, when the Parades Commission issued a determination on the return parade of the Ligoniel lodges passing Ardoyne.

Paragraph 11 of the determination set out a 'route map' for the future and invited the loyal orders to make a choice. It made it clear that:

* The return parade was restricted for "this year 2013" between Woodvale Parade and Hesketh Road;

* The Parades Commission will support/facilitate "sincere and concerted mediation" which "should start by September 2013 and must be substantive and meaningful" and;

* "In the event of the loyal orders respecting this determination and in the event of sustained and sincere dialogue, we expect that any future commission will look favourably upon a notification for a similar evening return parade on July 12, 2014."

The message was quite clear: the decision of 2013 was for that year only; any future notifications would be determined on the response to this (2013) determination. The loyal orders made the negative choice. They choose not to engage with the commission, or to start "sincere and concerted mediation". They chose not to "respect... this determination" by setting up Twaddell camp and by weekly notifications to complete the return parade.

Negative choices produce negative results. Unfortunately, the choice made almost 12 months ago have had a continued negative effect. If the loyal orders had made a positive choice and engaged with the commission, entered into "sustained and sincere dialogue" with CARA, chosen to respect the authority of the commission and dismantled the confrontational nature at the interface, they may have achieve a positive resolution.

Rev Brian Kennaway was a member of the Parades Commission (2011-13)

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