Alderdice to lead Ardoyne parades talks

Talks between residents’ groups and parade bodies in north Belfast are set to be held in a bid to resolve the ongoing dispute over parading in the Ardoyne area.

The discussions will be chaired by former Northern Ireland Assembly Speaker Lord Alderdice, supported by local church leaders Fr Gary Donegan from Holy Cross and Dr Norman Hamilton from Ballysillan Presbyterian.

The Crumlin and Ardoyne Residents Association (CARA) and the North and West Belfast Parades and Cultural Forum have initially been invited to participate.

“The purpose of this initiative is to explore those issues which have impeded agreement to date and to make a fresh effort at seeking a more sustainable solution to parading at this location,” Parades Commission Chairman Peter Osborne said.

It is important to recognise and acknowledge the efforts of those involved in previous processes and I appreciate the work both the Forum and CARA have undertaken so far in attempting to make progress on this issue.

Peter Osborne, Parades Commission

“We are sure that, given his recognised local and international experience, Lord Alderdice is someone in whom both parties can have confidence.

“I am encouraged that in this initiative he will be supported by Gary and Norman, who have significant local experience and knowledge, real local standing and respect.”

Mr Osborne also paid tribute to the efforts made on both sides so far and recognised that the work still to be done would be “difficult and challenging”.

Violence has broken out in the Ardoyne area in the wake of Twelfth of July celebrations in recent years, with the trouble lasting for four days in 2010.

Sinn Féin MLA for North Belfast Gerry Kelly said he welcomed the initiative, but that the onus was on the Orange Order to engage in meaningful dialogue with both the local community and the Parades Commission.

“In the week the Orange Order received significant amounts of EU funding to contribute to peace building and reconciliation, their continuing refusal to talk to local nationalist communities is even more untenable,” he said.

However, DUP Upper Bann MP David Simpson hit out at the Parades Commission and accused the body of “rewarding” those who don’t engage in discussions – referring particularly to the ongoing dispute at Drumcree.

“We now have this new initiative in Ardoyne. When will we have some move in Portadown?” he said.


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