The Irish Law & Democracy Committee has implemented and carried out its initiative for the Monitoring of Contentious Parades through the use of its Independent Human Rights Observers.The ILDC was monitoring events on the 12th July 2012 in Ardoyne.
We have made a number of preliminary observations as result of its monitoring of events. They are as follows:
- The first and main parade was that of the Orange Order, the core parade from which all other parades and protests derive.
- A number of breaches occurred in the outward leg of the Orange Order parade, in respect of the bands, Orangemen, and supporters in a broad range of contexts.
- The policing operation of Ardoyne residents/protestors of the outward leg was entirely inappropriate, which heightened tensions and caused confrontation.
- The resulting confrontation led to a number of concerning incidents. It is the contention of the ILDC that a number of Ardoyne residents/protestors were assaulted by the PSNI. Moreover, and somewhat highly concerning was that a member of the Press was stopped from carrying out his work as a freelance photographer and was the subject of a search and detention under highly dubious circumstances, whilst an ILDC member and independent human rights observer was assaulted by the PSNI during this incident. Both of the latter matters are now the subject of a Police Ombudsman Investigation.
- The policing operation for the return leg of the Orange Order parade was again a failure which resulted in altercations between Ardoyne residents/protestors and parade supporters that almost culminated in physical attacks on Ardoyne residents/protestors, due to the incursions from parade supporters from Twaddell/Woodvale towards Ardoyne residents/protestors as a result of a lack of any security measures being put in place to restrict them and subsequently protect the Ardoyne residents/protestors from such incursions from the Orange Order parade supporters.
- The policing of the GARC march was calamitous and whilst totally inadequate it was focused primarily on the Ardoyne side, which as a result led to an attack on those in the GARC march. The operational decision making by the PSNI ultimately risked the safety of those participants in the GARC march and could easily have led to serious injury/loss of life of those participants. It led to a situation where objects were thrown from both sides in a riot type situation.
- It is a matter of public record that assurances were given to a legal representative for GARC that “sufficient resources were in place to ensure the safety of those involved in the GARC march. This was amid serious concerns conveyed in this respect, in light of the fact that there was a large hostile protest in close proximity to where the GARC march was to pass.” It would appear that the PSNI failed to fulfill these assurances.
- It was plainly clear the same level of protection was not afforded to the GARC march as was the Orange Order parade, whilst a robust response was deployed to the Ardoyne area an unobtrusive and understated approach was deployed to the loyalist side, which led to the ‘ambush’ on the GARC march.
Nonetheless, a number of issues remain under investigation by the ILDC in relation to events on the day, in Ardoyne. We will however release any further details as they are attained by us. Our report into the events in Ardoyne will be released in due course. Our full report into the summer parades will be released on the 5th November 2012.
If there are any inquiries in relation to our initiative or any other aspect of our activities please do not hesitate to contact us on: