08 July 2005

Appeal for compromise

Irelandclick

• No reply from Orange Order as residents group appeals for compromise
on Twelfth of July parade past Ardoyne

• Outrage as council funds bonfire with UDA
banners to tune of £2,500

The Nationalist community of Ardoyne has called on the Orange Order to compromise over this year’s Twelfth of July march.
The compromise, which the Orange Order hasn’t commented on, would have enabled the march to take place on the morning of the Twelfth without protest from Nationalist residents.
In return the group asked that the parade would not pass Ardoyne that evening.
The Ardoyne Parades Dialogue Group this morning made a direct appeal to the Orange Order to pull out of its evening parade in return for no protest and for its march to be facilitated on the morning of the Twelfth. It also met with the Parades Commission on Thursday morning in a last ditch effort to get the decision overturned.
But no one from the Orange Order could be contacted for comment.
Joe Marley of the nationalist residents group said the fact that the appeal had been made should have forced a Parades Commission review of the march.
“We are making a direct appeal to the Orange Order if they withdraw the march on the Twelfth evening we will withdraw the protest and facilitate the parade in the morning.”
He said the Parades Commission should act on the residents’ appeals.
“It’s incumbent on the Parades Commission to give us a review on this basis and therefore help to diffuse the situation.”
And there has also been outrage in the north of the city after a bonfire decked with UDA banners was given funding by BCC.
At the same bonfire site in Westland Road last year the UDA staged a show of strength on the eleventh night.
This year’s bonfire has a banner with the words UDA 3rd Battalion K Coy draped across the middle. Combined with several paramilitary flags on top, Catholic residents in the Cavehill Road said they feel intimidated in their own homes.
Westland community sources have said they do not expect a similar show of strength this year and that they are in negotiations with the UDA to remove the flags and banner.
Belfast City Council are running a pilot bonfire scheme across the city offering £2,500 to help better manage the sites and cut back on toxic fumes.
The council has indicated the Westland bonfire committee are still in line to receive the money despite tyres in their bonfire and despite paramilitary connections.
“We have removed 500 tyres with approval from the local community last Saturday. There probably still are tyres in the bonfire. But this pilot was about reducing the number of tyres. And we have been working in agreement with that community,” the council spokesperson said.
“Our Code of Conduct was about environmental aspects. We’re not allowed to comment on illegal flags, that’s a matter for police.”
The council spokesperson also confirmed the bonfire committee would receive £2,500 in order to facilitate the day.
The North Belfast News has learned that businesses charge £1 to remove a tyre. In Westland that amounts to an extra £500.
The PSNI said they are still investigating last year’s UDA show of strength.
“We recognise there are community concerns about any incident involving firearms in the Westland area last year and we share these concerns. There is an active police investigation ongoing into the incident, which took place on July 11, 2004, and one person has been reported to the DPP,” said a spokeswoman.
“We would appeal for community representatives to use their influence to ensure that these types of unwelcome displays do not take place again this year. There will be a police presence in the area on the eleventh night and police will investigate any repeat of such attacks.”
And Sinn Féin’s Kathy Stanton called for calm.
“We would advise our constituents to be vigilant because tensions are high. We are calling for calm and calling for community leaders from both sides to show an example and reduce tensions,” said Kathy Stanton.
“All the good work that’s done and attempts to build relationships are all severely damaged by this withdrawal of goodwill.
“We would be calling for cool heads. Things are being exacerbated by the ongoing dispute over parades and loyalist feuds. Sinn Féin will do their utmost to show leadership in the face of adversity.
“It won’t improve the overall political situation if things are allowed to deteriorate.
“Stewarding the parade is going to be problematic enough. We would repeat our call for people to be calm and ask people to be vigilant about their own personal security.”

Journalist:: Áine McEntee

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