On June 7th 2010, the Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (G.A.R.C.) delivered a letter to a number of community groups and political parties who represent the Ardoyne community including, N/Belfast M.L.A., Gerry Kelly. Our letter offered dialogue and highlighted key findings of our survey in an attempt to map a peaceful way forward to Loyal Order marches in the area.
Instead of contacting us, the Junior British Minister once again launched into a clear attack on G.A.R.C. by issuing a statement to the media on June 19, 2010. His response erroneously accused G.A.R.C. of being ‘a self-styled, non-elected and unconstituted group, hell bent on provocation’ by erecting a mural clearly expressing the wishes of this community which stated, No Parades – No Violence. We take this opportunity to point out two planned actions which we abandoned, 1. To picket the offices @ Windsor House of the Parades Commission and to hand in a letter of protest (which we did do) around their past and future decisions to permit clearly unwelcome parades past our community (not shop fronts). 2. To hold a white-line picket on the Crumlin Road between 1pm and 2pm on the 18th June, hours before the Tour of the North parade? Where was the provocation in those strategies?
Q. Is this not a true reflection of how we feel about this issue? If he is as serious as he claims, about stopping unwelcome marches. Why does he not ask his boss, Stormont’s Deputy First Minister to exercise his power and end them now? As it doesn’t affect them or their immediate families, that's why!
Mr. Kelly also blamed us ‘of undermining other residents groups’ ie: C.A.R.A. Would he care to clarify why senior members of C.A.R.A. attended one of our meetings prior to the ‘Tour of the North’ march. The debate was an attempt to challenge contentious parades in a holistic manner. However, instead of adopting a unified approach, C.A.R.A. undermined the community after it forgot to mention they had already met with the North/West Belfast Parades Forum and were due to meet them the following day, Thursday 17th June. Of which the North/West walked out due to the common sense banning of the feeder parade. Who was being disingenuous on this occasion? GARC believe common sense NOT negotiations will resolve this issue. Our position is clear, No Parades – No Violence. So please march were you are welcome and leave us in peace!
Unlike Mr. Kelly and his Party’s past bankrupt strategy in preventing unwanted parades through our community and the annual riots which followed. Has been clear for all to see (complete failure). His verbal attacks to the media re: G.A.R.C. and then offering us the opportunity for a chat around parades or any other issue, NO thanks Gerry! Your comments made sure of that.
A common sense approach to forthcoming parades must prevail. To that end, G.A.R.C. take this opportunity to call upon all concerned Catholic/Nationalist and Republican people from near and far to come and stand shoulder to shoulder with the beleaguered Ardoyne community for the twelfth of July parade. Only together can we stop being treated as second-class citizens at the behest of sectarian bigots.