A senior dissident republican has warned that a resolution to the Ardoyne parades row will not be found in talks between the Orange Order and Sinn Fein.
Carl Reilly, chair of the group Republican Network for Unity (RNU) and a suspected leader of Oglaigh na hEireann, insisted any talks must involve Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (GARC).
“Sinn Fein and the Orange Order can talk until the cows come home,” Reilly told The Belfast Telegraph.
GARC is one of two residents’ groups in the area, and organised last week’s protest parade against the annual Orange march.
“Sinn Fein has called for talks with the Orange Order.
“If RNU was giving an input, we would say that the Orange Order needs to talk with GARC, not Sinn Fein,” Mr Reilly said.
“They have a support base within Ardoyne where a sizeable portion of the residents wish for GARC to represent them on the issue of contentious parades.
“Two thousand people walked down that road behind the GARC banner.
“That cannot be ignored by the Parades Commission, the loyal orders or Sinn Fein.”
Last week Sinn Fein strongly criticised the decision of GARC to stage that parade, and supported the protests by the other residents’ group, Crumlin Ardoyne Residents Association (CARA).
But in Ardoyne a numbers game is developing, and mainstream republicans are concerned about the swing towards GARC, and that dissidents are using the issue of parades to undermine Sinn Fein and gain ground.
“On the question of parades, Sinn Fein need to stop party-politicking,” Reilly told this newspaper, adding that residents should be allowed “to articulate in their own way how they wish to resolve the issue of contentious parades”.
Asked about the shots fired at police during last week’s rioting, he said: “I wasn’t there when the shots were fired.”
He offered no further comment.
A Sinn Fein spokesman said: “Sinn Fein has consistently called for over 20 years for the Orange Order to enter into dialogue with local residents.”