Earlier Ardoyne Resistance to Orange Parades
On June 7th 2010, The Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (G.A.R.C.) wrote and delivered the following letter to a number of community and political groups and Parties who represent the Ardoyne community. Including Sinn Fein's, North Belfast M.L.A., Gerry Kelly;
GREATER ARDOYNE RESIDENTS COLLECTIVE
Dear Sir/Madam, 7th June 2010
I am writing to you on behalf of the Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (G.A.R.C.) Our body is made up exclusively of local residents and has allegiance to no political parties or groups. We are residents NOT dissidents. Our aim is to ensure that the human rights of the people of greater Ardoyne are fully respected and that there is no repeat of the violence of recent years visited upon our community. It is our intention that the people of greater Ardoyne want simply to be left in peace and that existing Loyalist marches are re-routed away from our district.
In our opinion, the violence of July 2009 was inevitable given a number of factors. Firstly, the ignorance and arrogance of the Parades Commission to permit a Loyalist parade through a Nationalist area where it was not welcome. Secondly, the determination of the P.S.N.I. in forcing the parade through at all costs created an atmosphere were violence erupted. According to a recent FOI request, the cost of policing this parade was over £650,000. The cost to our community was even higher with three days of violence, police raids, fear and restriction on resident’s movements.
In order to ascertain what residents wanted done, G.A.R.C. in consultation with external researchers, carried out an extensive survey. The results were both significant and clear, some 99% of residents stated that the present arrangements were completely unacceptable and needed changed.
The key finding in this survey is that almost 90% of residents throughout greater Ardoyne find these contentious parades unacceptable in any form and want them re-routed. This survey was completed and signed by over 1100 individual households.
We are eager to engage in dialogue with persons from any political or community background to highlight the findings of the survey and attempt to map a peaceful way forward. We call upon your Party/Organisation to contact us and support our calls to end these unwanted sectarian marches and help us build a peaceful future. G.A.R.C. fully support the right of all groups to parade in a peaceful manner, as long as, they adhere to the human rights of others and march only where they would be welcome.
Only by standing together can we achieve this aim, so your support, physically at our pickets, protests, letters, e-mails etc, to the local media or through your Party paper/magazine etc will break the cycle of violence. Our motto is clear; No Parades - No Violence. Copies of the survey findings and an alternative proposed route are available upon request. Please feel free to contact us at the e-mail address at the top of this correspondence.
Yours faithfully the Secretary,
The Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective
Instead of directly contacting any representatives from G.A.R.C., Mr. Kelly strangely issued the following statement on June 19, 2010;
“I want to congratulate the residents group CARA (Crumlin Ardyone Residents Association) for the effective representation of the residents of Ardyone, Mountainview and the Dales on the issue of Friday’s Tour of the North Orange Parade.
They were instrumental in ensuring an almost incident free night for everyone in the area. CARA maintained the principle of dialogue throughout the year to achieve a peaceful outcome in this Loyal Order parade not passing through these nationalist and republican areas.
However after achieving a good result from the Parades Commission in barring this section of the parade, members of a self-styled group calling themselves the Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (GARC) put up a large sign directly facing the Loyalist Twaddell Avenue which read “no parade, no violence”. They did this on the very evening that this section of the parade had been banned.
While all nationalist and republicans are against any of these Loyal Order parades going through or passing nationalist areas, this particular action carried out on the very day the parade was successfully banned, was no more than a deliberate attempt to provoke a reaction from Loyalists. I welcome the fact that no one reacted to this deliberate provocation. This resulted in a well deserved respite for both nationalist and unionist residents who live in the area.
There are a number of residents groups properly constituted and elected by the people to represent different parts of Greater Ardoyne. GARC is self-styled, non-elected and constituted, it would seem, for the sole purpose of undermining other residents groups and undermining possible peaceful resolutions to existing issues.
As an elected representative for the area I am prepared to speak to the member of GARC openly and honestly about any issues affecting the Greater Ardoyne area or indeed anything else they may wish to talk about. However, it must be said that so far this group seems entirely intent on confrontation with all that that entails for residents living in the area, instead of actually working to a peaceful resolution.”
Despite the unreceptive and negative response from Sinn Fein, G.A.R.C. remain 'ready to engage in dialogue with persons from any political or community background to highlight the findings of our survey and attempt to map a peaceful way forward'.....