GARC is a non party-political residents’ group that is there to serve and give a voice to all the people of Ardoyne, Mountainview and The Dales, in terms of opposing unwanted bigoted parades through our community by Loyal Orders. GARC is committed to peaceful, radical action in order to bring an end to triumphalist parades that are open manifestations of sectarianism and that result in massive disruption to the lives of people in this community, the militarization of our community and the criminalisation of our community.
This 12th July once again the Greater Ardoyne community faces the reality of two unwanted sectarian marches by the Orange Order being granted permission to take place through our area by the Parades Commission and facilitated by the PSNI. This is despite the fact that the people of Ardoyne, Mountainview and The Dales have consistently voiced their legitimate opposition to such marches. The whole ethos of the Loyal Orders is one of Protestant supremacy over the Catholic, Nationalist and Republican people, and they see these marches as the best way in which to assert that supposed supremacy over the Ardoyne Community. All such expressions of naked sectarianism are totally unacceptable to the vast majority of residents within our community and will remain so until all Loyal Order marches are banned from taking place through Ardoyne.
Over the past number of months GARC representatives met with the Alderdice Commission on two separate occasions, and also made a submission to the Parades Commission regarding the upcoming 12th July Orange Order marches. At each of these engagements GARC voiced the opinion of the vast majority of the people of Ardoyne – that Loyal Order parades are unacceptable. GARC articulated how the Orange Order march on the 12th July affects the day today lives of Ardoyne residents in terms of freedom of movement due to policing operations, their right to live free from sectarianism, the restriction of use of local shops and amenities. We also presented written evidence from a number of youth providers within the area regarding the increase in young people being put through the Criminal Justice System as a result of provocation caused by sectarian marches.
We also presented them with information around the alternative route that would take Loyal Orders away from the Greater Ardoyne Community and the comparison in cost between any necessary upgrades of roads on that route and the budget for the policing operation to force marches through.
In addition we highlighted the historical violent consequences of Loyal Order marches through Ardoyne and the unacceptable negative impact that such actions have on our people, all of which could be avoided by banning the Loyal Order marches. One of the most salient points of our submission was the fact that the Parades Commission are failing to follow their own guidelines for making determinations by failing to take into account breaches of their determinations in previous years and the impact that sectarian parades have on local residents’ day to day lives, and the frustration that this causes for the people of Ardoyne, Mountainview and The Dales.
However despite submissions by GARC, other Residents and Political Representatives of the area the Parades Commission has still granted the Orange Order permission to trample over the people of this area yet again.
With experience of the Parades Commissions previous determinations and disregard for the rights of Ardoyne Residents, GARC had anticipated such a decision and had applied for a parade of our own prior to the Orange Order march where people from this area could demand an end to unwanted sectarian Loyal Order parades through our area - a constructive peaceful parade that would demonstrate to the wider public the strength of opposition within the area. This decision was taken following a highly successful parade last year that was attended by almost a thousand people. This year’s parade, like last years, is not a contentious parade as it is not entering any Loyalist or Unionist area, it is the people of Ardoyne walking in their own area. The dispersal point of our parade was also consciously chosen to be within the area yet away from the flashpoint where the Orange march passes, in order to draw young people away from conflict.
However the Parades Commission has ruled that instead of taking place prior to the Orange Order march, our parade must take place afterwards. History shows us that the Orange Order march passing results in violence, violence that GARC is opposed to and has consistently stated that is totally unacceptable and only serves to take the onus of responsibility away from Loyal Orders. This being the case we view with cynicism the Parades Commission’s determination to grant us permission to access the Crumlin and Ardoyne Roads. Should trouble break out prior to our parade setting off, it will be the senior PSNI officer in charge on the day who determines our route. What the Parades Commission have done is ban our parade “by proxy”, granting permission but setting in motion a train of events that they hope will ensure it is unable to take place on the day.
They will fail. GARC remains determined to demonstrate through our peaceful protest parade and strength of numbers that the people of Ardoyne refuse to be subjected to the repeated denial of our rights to live free from sectarian harassment and intimidation that Loyal Order marches through our community causes. Let us see if the PSNI will protect Ardoyne Residents in their own area from Loyalists with the same ruthlessness that they force Orange marches through our area. We are asking that Ardoyne Residents and all others who support the Human Rights of our community to assemble at the bottom of Ardoyne Avenue at 5pm on Thursday the 12th of July. We cannot stress enough that we only wish people to take part in our parade who are going to act peacefully, with dignity and in a manner that respects the people of Ardoyne. If you care, you’ll be there!
Anyone who has aspirations of violence on the day is not welcome and we would ask that you stay away, and that the people of Ardoyne are allowed to live in peace. We wish to see people taking part in our parade who represent all that is good about our community – inner strength, dignity, co-operation, respect, determination and resistance. The people of Ardoyne do not want violence and GARC want to yet again re-emphasise that point. Violence only serves the interests of those who demand sectarian marches through our area, causes undue suffering to the people of Ardoyne and criminalises our community.