Belfast Telegraph

Let's build on progress at Ardoyne, urge priest and ex-Orange official

By Noel McAdam

A former senior Orange Order member and a north Belfast priest involved in a parades dispute over many years have called on the progress witnessed at this year's Twelfth to be built upon.

Fr Gary Donegan, formerly of Holy Cross in Ardoyne, said a local forum set up almost four years ago would also have to "increasingly bring in the wider community".

Now based in Crossgar near Downpatrick, the cleric returned to witness the early morning Orange parade past the former trouble spot at Ardoyne shops on Wednesday.

He said: "The more we inch forward to normality, and these things just pass through without reaction and pass by with dignity and respect, then the place gets a different perspective, a different name.

"Possibly, then, the real issues that are there, such as unemployment, education, housing and infrastructure, could be addressed."

Finding a long-term solution to contentious parades was an "ongoing process", Fr Donegan added.

Former senior Orange Order official David Hume also said it was obvious much work had gone on behind the scenes at Ardoyne to bring about what happened on the Twelfth "and it's very, very positive".

"The question is: when does the cycle of history change?

"It doesn't change overnight, it doesn't change dramatically, very often," he told BBC Radio Ulster.

"It changes incrementally and I think we are seeing the beginnings of that now.

"Maybe communities are becoming a little more able and having the capacity to respect each other and understand each other and give each other space."

However, Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said yesterday that unionist leaders needed to "publicly challenge those who are reducing their sense of Orange celebrations to a hate fest".

"I am sure the vast majority of unionists, including members of the Orange, are appalled at the aggression and sectarianism around some bonfires," he said.

"They know there can be no place in our society for sectarianism, bigotry, racism or incitement to hatred.

"For that reason, there can be no return to the status quo following any negotiations in the autumn."

Belfast Telegraph


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