07 April 2006

Loyal Orders urged to talk


The Ardoyne Parades Dialogue Group (APDG) has again called on loyal orders to engage immediately in talks about the problem of contentious parades on the Crumlin Road.
Following a meeting this week with the new-look Parades Commission Joe Marley of the APDG said the group was very concerned that the loyal orders have so far refused to speak with nationalist residents even as another marching season looms.
The Ardoyne community worker said he was concerned that the loyal orders may once again be rewarded with another march on the Crumlin Road on Easter Monday despite their refusal to talk to nationalists.
“The APDG has demonstrated on two occasions over the last year (Easter Monday last and in December) our resolve in trying to move things on and create a positive climate by withdrawing our protest.
“Since last June the APDG has repeatedly tried through various ways to engage with the North and West Belfast Parades Forum, but we have been met with an ongoing refusal to engage in dialogue.
“There must be a clear message from the Parades Commission that the loyal orders and parade organisers will not be rewarded for this non-engagement.”
Joe Marley said the feeder parade organised by the Apprentice Boys for the Crumlin Road on Easter Monday was designed to intimidate.
“We view these feeder parades as nothing short of a coat trailing exercise designed to humiliate the nationalist community of the Crumlin Road.
“The marchers go through the Nationalist area only to board a bus to travel to the actual parade,” he said.
“This only serves to heighten tensions and create further divisions between communities.”
The APDG spokesman said that the North Belfast group had also made it clear to the commission that it believed the position of one of its commissioners Don McKay was now untenable.
“The appointment of two members of the Orange Order Don McKay and David Burrows to the commission earlier this year was greeted with disbelief in the nationalist community. It is hard to imagine how two people actively involved in this problem can act impartially in making determinations.
“However, the recent revelations that Don McKay was dishonest when filling in his CV for the commission and the fact that that he said last week in a public meeting in Portadown that he was fighting the cause of the loyal orders ‘from inside the fence' now makes his position untenable.”
And although the first contentious parade of the year is now only 10 days away Joe Marley said that the APDG is prepared to talk to anyone in a bid to resolve this issue.
“If they are interested in finding a lasting solution to the problems caused by parades then they should open up meaningful talks with us as soon as possible,” he said.
But this morning Tommy Cheevers of the Apprentice Boys - who are to march on Easter Monday accused the APDG of not representing Ardoyne residents.
“We offered dialogue in 2001 and were in a process until last year until the violence (on the Twelfth).
“I would doubt at this last stage if there would be any talks.”

Journalist:: Evan Short

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