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Orange Order pulls out of talks on Ardoyne

By Evan Short

A talks process involving the Orange Order, an Ardoyne residents group and local clergymen has been halted without explanation after the Orange Order withdrew from the process.

The talks, which have been ongoing from March and facilitated by Catholic Bishop Donal McKeown and Church of Ireland Bishop Alan Abernethy, have been “postponed” with the Orange Order withdrawing from dialogue.
Joe Marley from the Crumlin Ardoyne Residents Association (CARA) said his group was informed of the development last Monday night. The CARA spokesman says they have asked for clarification on why the decision was taken but haven’t been given a reason.

“On Monday last week we were informed that talks, which were scheduled for last Wednesday night, were postponed.

“We since sought clarity as to when the Orange were going to resume them and what the purpose of not going ahead with it was. What they told us was that they were going to re-evaluate where they were at.

“We have asked what that means, and are still waiting on a response.”
Joe said they would now be contacting the Bishops to seek a meeting regarding the future of the discussions.

“There is a small window of opportunity and that is closing rapidly. The Parades Commission are due to consider the 12th parade next week.

“There is a fair degree of urgency around this. Unless the Orange get back round the table with us it will again fall to the Parades Commission to issue a determination.

“Our preferred option has always been to reach an accommodation.”
However Joe said said the process had struggled from day one.

“Since the start of April there’s been two meetings. It hasn’t been consistent and it certainly hasn’t been sustained.”

Confirming the talks had been postponed, Orange Order Grand Chaplin Mervyn Gibson told the North Belfast News that he wouldn’t be discussing why they had pulled out.

“Joe Marley will know from the people he is talking to that it’s not the sort of thing you negotiate through the press on.

“There is no good using megaphone diplomacy on these things.”

Meanwhile the Parades Commission has ruled that an Orange parade to take place on Saturday, June 29 will not be permitted to pass nationalist homes on the Crumlin Road at Ardoyne.

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