Friday, 15 July 2011

GARC Statemet Read at Civil Rights March

Greater Ardoyne Residents’ Collective Statement

July 12th 2011

First of all we would like to thank everyone for attending this parade this evening. The purpose of this parade was to highlight the fact that once again, as has been the case so often since the foundation of the state, Ardoyne residents have been treated as second class citizens by the state and its agents within quangoes such as the Parades Commission and their militias in the RUC, PSNI and British Army. The overriding reason behind this repression has been the fact that our community is overwhelmingly Catholic, Nationalist and Republican in its make up.

For the first time ever, members of this community applied to hold a peaceful and dignified parade on the 12th of July to assert our right to live free from sectarian harassment and not to be treated as second class citizens. The result being that the Parades Commission has denied us access to part of our community, while allowing the sectarian Orange Order to triumphantly march through our area with banners commemorating murderers involved in the killings of our loved ones.

In their determination the Parades Commission state that those who actually live here should be able to live, work, shop, trade and carry on business in the area, as a right under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. It is quite clear to those gathered here in Ardoyne today and this evening that this right, and others are being denied to us, not least the right to protest.

We have also been told that this community must have due regard for the rights and traditions of the Orange Order and the Protestant Community. Let us once again reiterate that we are not sectarian and the Orange Order have a right to march, where they are welcome and appreciated. However due to their anti-Catholic ethos and sectarianism they are certainly not welcome in Ardoyne.

One thing that Loyal Order Parades inevitably highlight is the one sided nature of Justice in the Six Counties. A number of our young people have recently been imprisoned for terms of up to four years, after allegedly getting involved in disorder following last years Orange parade on the 12th July. Contrast this with the treatment of loyalists involved in protests in areas of South East Antrim, Rathcoole and Asda on the Shore Road. We have also saw the UVF attack the Short Strand in their hundreds, and rather than arrests and prosecutions, they received tea and biscuits at Stormont.

There are those who would put the blame for any negative consequences of Loyal Order parades, for the last 40 years or so, back onto the residents of Ardoyne. Can we make it absolutely clear that we have been consistent in stating that we want people to protest in a peaceful and dignified way, as engaging in any other activity may deflect the blame away from where it really lies – with those who demand to march, those in the Parades Commission who permit them and the PSNI, British Army and others who facilitate them.

To conclude let us be absolutely emphatic in stating that the people of Ardoyne have opposed sectarianism in various guises, be it Loyalist paramilitaries, institutionalised sectarianism in state agencies and unwanted bigoted parades by loyal orders for generations. We will continue to protest until we receive our fundamental right to live free from intimidation and sectarian harassment. We are going nowhere, we live here, and this is our community.

As Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King said, “Justice delayed is justice denied. In the end we will not remember the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

Dee Fennell


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