This coming Easter Monday the Apprentice Boys will once again have an unwanted sectarian triumphalist march through Ardoyne, Mountainview and The Dales against the wishes of the vast majority of local residents who remain opposed to such open expressions of sectarianism in their area. Permission for this march has been granted by the discredited Parades Commission de…spite the continued refusal of the Apprentice Boys to speak to local residents groups. This is despite the Parades Commission having a supposed position of looking unfavourably on applications where marches are contentious yet no attempt to speak to residents is made. What the Parades Commission are demonstrating is that they are in fact failing to follow their own guidelines and procedures when making determinations and vindicating the long held view of GARC and others that they are unfit for
The Apprentice Boys are, like the other Loyal Orders, a Protestant supremacist organisation that have at the centre of their ethos the fundamental belief that being Protestant somehow makes them a class above the rest of us. Nowhere is this exemplified better than in their attitude to Ardoyne Residents for each of their marches here. The Apprentice Boys board a bus in the Shankill/Woodvale area, travel past Greater Ardoyne on said bus, disembark at their march assembly point, proceed to march through Greater Ardoyne where they are neither welcome nor appreciated, are greeted by a howling mob of loyalists behind Holy Cross Chapel and then reboard their waiting bus and travel 75 miles to Derry.
The obvious questions to be asked of the Apprentice Boys, locally and at leadership level, is why they simply don’t board their bus when they assemble and go to Derry? Why is it so important to march through an area that has shown time and time again for generations that their sectarianism is not welcome? Why can they not have a day celebrating their culture without first having to trample over the rights of their neighbours to live free from sectarianism? And the simple answers are that they enjoy the opportunity to remind the “taigs” of their place, and that while permission is continually granted by the Parades Commission then it will be continually sought.
For our part, GARC remain fully committed to having dialogue with any and all of the Loyal Orders, either face to face or through agreed intermediaries, in order that they get a representative feeling of the vast majority of Greater Ardoyne residents – that no sectarian marches are welcome. This has been our stated position and remains the case. However this offer does not extend to UVF front organisations and their spokespeople. Their only objective in terms of the parading issue in our area is not to find a peaceful resoulution, but to boost their own egos and support for an organisation that in the not too distant past the people of the Shankill held demonstrations against.
It remains our view that the only peaceful solution to this issue is to have a neutral no-parade zone on the Crumlin and Ardoyne Roads as proposed by us in 2012, where no one parades and causes disruption to the lives of the people of Ardoyne, Mountainview and The Dales. To date this is the only attempt at solution that has not been attempted, and it is GARC’s opinion that the creation of such a zone would end the hurt, distress, disruption and chaos that ensues in the aftermath of sectarian parades through our area.
GARC remain committed, as the largest and most representative residents group in the area, to opposing sectarian marches through peaceful and radical means. We continue to receive massive support within the area, and will continue to do our best to give a voice to all those fed up with the continual abuse of our human rights by Loyal Orders, the Parades Commission and the PSNI and others who facilitate unwanted sectarian marches.