PUP blames power-struggle between Sinn Fein and dissident republicans for Ardoyne stand-off
A senior loyalist has blamed the marching stand-off in north Belfast on a power-struggle in Ardoyne between Sinn Fein and dissident republicans.
PUP leader Billy Hutchinson was speaking after a major police operation was mounted on Saturday, again blocking the path of the local Ligoniel lodges.
They had applied to complete a march along a contentious route passing Ardoyne, but again the Parades Commission refused permission.
This stand-off is now in its 11th month, having begun on July 12 last year, and that headline march date will soon become the focus of this summer's parading calendar.
"People in Ardoyne need to get real about this, recognise that if they are interested in a shared future then this road can be shared for five minutes," Mr Hutchinson told the Belfast Telegraph.
"This has got nothing to do with parades. It's to do with a power-struggle in Ardoyne between republicans and those who are described as dissident republicans."
In pouring rain on Saturday morning the police put another big numbers operation in place. Barriers were stretched across the Woodvale Road at the point where the commission ruled the march must stop.
But there was no sense there would be trouble. In the build-up an assessment by one senior officer suggested "sensible voices" were being listened to. Soon, another cycle of parades will mark the beginning of another marching season – the Tour of the North, the Whiterock parade, the mini Twelfth and the Twelfth.
And July 12, 2014 will soon become the focus of attention on this controversial parading ground in north Belfast.
And Hutchinson believes Sinn Fein has to make its mind up. "They can't talk about a shared future and behave in a different way," he said.