Belfast Telegraph

Home News Politics

Stormont urged to discuss Ardoyne parade crisis

Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy
Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy

By Noel McAdam

The Stormont Executive is to be pushed to attempt to resolve the potentially explosive Ardoyne Orange parade.

Unionists are demanding the issue is on the agenda for a special meeting tomorrow which is due to focus on spending decisions around the quarterly monitoring round.

With just five days left to the annual July 12 flashpoint, Ulster Unionist Minister Danny Kennedy said he would be "astonished" if the other parties were unwilling to debate the controversy which threatens widespread protests and unrest.

And the Regional Development Minister said the planned "graduated" programme of action would depend on whether a resolution to the afternoon return Orange parade through Ardoyne could be reached.

But Alliance Minister Stephen Farry said the irony would not be lost that unionists who walked out of all-party talks last Thursday were now pushing for discussions at the latest Executive meeting tomorrow.

And he said the implied threat that the Stormont institutions were in danger was causing instability with people unsure what the pan-unionist 'graduated' strategy amounted to.

Mr Kennedy, however, told the BBC Sunday Politics programme there was a difference between all-party negotiations – from which the UUP and DUP withdrew last Thursday – and Executive business dealing with the "here and now".

"Why wouldn't the Executive want to discuss the issue of the day that is dominating discussion at the moment?" he said.

Sinn Fein, the SDLP and Alliance are likely to agree to the issue being discussed but insist a decision against the return demonstration has already been made by the Parades Commission.

As it emerged the situation has been discussed by the London and Dublin prime ministers David Cameron and Enda Kenny, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams urged the two governments to act as an 'axis for progress'.

"It is good that the Taoiseach and British Prime Minister have discussed the current difficulties in the political process in the north," he said.

"For our part, Sinn Fein will do our best to give positive and calm leadership during the Orange marching season both in neighbourhoods affected by contentious orange parades and also in our willingness to resolve difficulties.

"For their part, the two governments need to be champions for the Good Friday and other agreements.

"They need to form an axis for progress to thwart those who are trying to subvert peace."

And former SDLP Executive minister Alex Attwood said it was time for the London and Dublin governments to take 'centre stage'

Referring to Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness's comments when Mr Adams was arrested by police over the disappearance of Jean McConville, Mr Attwood said: "When Sinn Fein recently put the new beginning to policing in doubt, they got cold comfort; so too now.

"People, parties and the Dublin, London and Washington governments must give cold comfort to political unionism as and when they further pull back from the institutions of the agreements and further move away from the new order of politics."

"This situation needs a resolute response.

"The two governments are critical in all of this. London and Dublin should wait not a second longer and should say what is now transparently clear – to create stability now and then progress needs the two governments back centre stage."

Days of tension

Thursday: DUP and UUP pull out of talks on parades, flags and the past after the Parades Commission rules to block an Orange Order parade from returning through Ardoyne. A joint statement with TUV and others warns of 'graduated response' to ban on Orange Ardoyne parade.

Friday: North South Ministerial Council meeting cancelled after First Minister Peter Robinson warns Assembly and Executive are under threat.

Saturday: Orange Order leaders are to meet "in the coming days" to discuss their response to Parades Commission Ardoyne ban.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph