Loyalists in Ardoyne parade talks rule out meeting dissidents
Loyalists have ruled out meeting dissident republicans in a bid to defuse tensions at the Ardoyne parades flashpoint.
The north Belfast interface has seen repeated rioting around controversial parades. But representatives of marchers and nationalist residents are now in talks to avoid further clashes this summer.
The North and West Belfast Parades and Cultural Forum has confirmed it is in talks with the nationalist Crumlin Ardoyne Residents Association (Cara) and said the Parades Commission had been notified.
Thousands of pounds worth of damage was caused in the area last July after violence flared following an Orange Order parade past the Ardoyne shops.
Dissident republicans were blamed for sparking the violence.
Winston Irvine from the North and West Belfast Parades and Cultural Forum last night ruled out the possibility of meeting dissident groups.
He said: “Their agenda is to see the destruction of parades and the existence of the Protestant heritage. Until they change their position I don’t see any chance of that happening. We have met with the leadership of Sinn Fein who are the people with the electoral mandate in Ardoyne and we have met with Cara who are a constituted body that has been put forward by the people of Ardoyne.”
Mr Irvine said the planned series of meetings, which began on March 21, are intended to bring calm to north Belfast ahead of the marching season.
He said: “We want to see a situation where local people are discussing local problems and we hope we get to a point where we address the needs of all the communities.”
Cara spokesman Joe Marley said: “We ask for space to develop this process and trust that these efforts will not be undermined.”
The Ardoyne interface is one of the last remaining parade flashpoints in Northern Ireland. Last year violence erupted |between police and dissidents after republicans held a protest in opposition to an Orange Order march which passed the Ardoyne shops. The violence that followed was some of the worst seen in the province for years.