Today The Pensive Quill features a piece from Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective, otherwise known as GARC. GARC describes itself  as a non-political residents' group that is there to serve and give a voice to all the people of Ardoyne, Mountainview and the Dales in opposing unwanted, bigoted sectarian parades through our community by the Loyal Orders. GARC states that is committed to peaceful, radical action in order to bring an end to triumphalist parades that are open manisfestations of sectarianism and that result in massive disruption to the lives of people in the  community it serves, the militarisation and criminalisation of that community.

On July 12th 2010, GARC staged a dignified sitdown protest against the evening parade by the Orange Order through Greater Ardoyne, exercising our right to protest under the European Convention of Human Rights. The sectarian march was permitted by the discredited Parades Commission, despite the fact that the North and West Belfast Parades Forum (who represent the Loyal Orders) had refused to even discuss their position with the Commission for a significant period of time. This was despite the stated position that the Commission will look favourably on those who 'engage in dialogue.' In comparison, GARC had engaged with the Parades Commission's then Secretary, Ronnie Pedlow and other Commissioners' in Holy Cross Monastery prior to the march. We gave the Commision our and our community's position, which we represented. 'That there NO acceptable Loyal Order parade through the Greater Ardoyne community'. A fact reinforced by an independent survey, where 90% of respondents stated that this was the case.

The sitdown protest of 2010 was forcibly removed by the heavily-armed RUC/PSNI, using fists, batons and sheer force. This was to facilitate a totally unacceptable parade by sectarian Orangemen and their drunk and drugged fuelled followers, many of who had openly admitted on various Social Networks that they had not slept the night before using cocaine and methadrone, so they could taunt Ardoyne residents, before getting taxis back down to the Shankill and other Loyalist areas of the city.

Six months afterwards, almost 30 residents and supporters of GARC received summons informing them that they were to face charges brought by the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) namely, 'Illegally obstructing traffic, and/or a legal procession by sitting, standing, or kneeling or other'. These summons were signed half an hour before the six months time limit on issuing such charges had ran out. Two local residents had previously been 'convicted' for their part in  the July protest. The trial of the larger number began at the end of October with a 'deal' being offered by the PPS at Laganside Courts. We were told that if we pleaded guilty to, 'not notifying the Parades Commission of our intention to protest', we could go home there and then with a caution. However, as a Collective, each and every one of us rejected the offer. Our position remained that we were right to protest and that we did not have to ask anyone for 'permission' to do so, as is a fundemental human right.

Any members of the public and press who attended the trial will have been shocked at how farcical proceedings were. Time after time, the same videoes were played, with little in the way of identification evidence, except for the testimony of RUC/PSNI members, *NONE* of who were even present at the sitdown protest. We also had the recently retired Secretary of the Parades Commission, Ronnie Pedlow telling the Court that he did not know of GARC's existence, in spite of the fact that we met with him prior to the protest at Holy Cross. In addition to this, he was unable to say what occurred during the protest all the Parades Commissioners had been pulled out off Ardoyne for their own safety and that, he and the others watched events unfold from the RUC/PSNI Control Rooms inside Castlereagh via their cameras. So much for impartial observers.

The RUC/PSNI man in charge of 'policing' the parade, Chief Inspector, Alan Freeburn also made some astounding statements to the Court. Asked by Defence Barristers, 'how he could be sure that this was not the residents protest which the Parades Commission had 'permitted'. He stated, 'that members of CARA and other Community and Political Representatives had phoned him from a local Club, where they had been enjoying a buffet at the time and asked that the RUC/PSNI Riot-Squad remove the sitdown protesters as soon as possible so that CARA could have their roadside poster-holding protest'. He also said that, 'without the help of local Community and Political Reps, it would have been impossible to identify and bring charges against those involved in the sitdown protest'.

On December 22 2011, 26 GARC Activists and Supporters were found 'Guilty' with 9 also 'convicted' of resisting arrest. Three others were found 'not guilty' , while another was acquitted because a RUC/PSNI woman had, 'misled the Court about she had got her evidence'. Those 'convicted' of obstruction were fined £400.00 with another £200.00 added to the amount for those found guilty of resisting arrest. The vast majority have since filed for appeals of these unfair convictions on the basis that punishing them for peacefully protesting is an infringement of their civil and human rights.

However, this has to be viewed by the Greater Ardoyne community and others as part of a wider picture. This has again highlighted the fact that as Nationalists and/or Republicans, we are seen by the State, RUC/PSNI, PPS and Court Service as second-class citizens who should not be afforded the same rights to protest as Loyalists and Unionists. Since July 12 2010, Loyalists have been involved in a number of illegal protests and rallies. Most notably on the 16, 17 and 18th July 2010 at the ASDA Superstore on the Shore Road to have UVF man, Billy Hunter reinstated after making sectarian remarks to a fellow worker. They also marched illegallyy to the City Hall in support of the British Armed Forces, where they were addressed by elected Unionist Representatives. Locally on June 16 2011, known UVF men led a protest march to block the Twaddell/Woodvale Road junction angry at the Parades Commission decision to re-route the following night's 'Tour of the North' parade. Most recently, on the 1st and 5th December 2011, masked Loyalist Thugs blocked the road behind the City Hall and shouted death threats against Sinn Fein Councillors and Council Staff. Not one of the those involved in the above protests have faced any charges - Political Policing yet again.

GARC will continue to oppose Loyal Order parades through our community in a peaceful and radical way, the Greater Ardoyne area has quite clearly stated that there is NO such thing as an acceptable Loyal Order march through our area and we exist to give the majority of residents an option to resist them in a dignified and constructive manner, regardless of the efforts of the RUC/PSNI and others to criminalise our proud and resolute community.

Is é gáire ár gcuid páistí a bheas mar dhíoltas againn


  1. have you tryed engaging the other group.

  2. The more things change the more they stay the same,only this time aided and abetted by qsf and their hangers on the lol continue to tramp where they are not welcome,this is reminiscent of pre 69.

  3. So much for the end of the "Nationalist nightmare" in the 06.

  4. The Loyal Orders argue that they ought to be allowed to parade wherever they want. They contend that to prevent them from marching through residential areas like Ardoyne would be a violation of their civil liberties. However, I find this argument specious.

    We as a society place limits on civil liberties. For example, the laws against nudity and sex in public are rather arbitrary; the people engaging in such acts are not directly infringing the rights of others, their crime merely being one of offending our societal notions of common decency. Still I support the laws against these behaviours because I think a society has a right to set its own cultural norms and that these norms can prevent conflict and anarchy, though I also believe that the laws which outline these norms should not be unduly restrictive and that any limits on personal freedom ought to be moderate and sensible. I view marches and parades from the same mindset: allow them to take place in proper public spaces like town centres, but prevent them from passing through residential areas, at least without the permission of residents' committees. That seems sensible to me. I would say the same thing about republican, civil rights or gay pride marches as I would about the Orange Order ones. I mean, I support the rights of gay people to hold annual parades in town and city centres, but if every summer, there were wave upon wave of such parades, many of them passing through conservative residential areas, I would advocate restrictions.

  5. GARC have had talks and offered CARA to form a new and unified collective to oppose these parades but it seems PSF have a different agenda and only want to facilitate bigots!

    There are only six of these parades annaully through the Greater Ardoyne area. The local community have repeatedly through regular protests and the survey have stated they do NOT want these marches taking place, however the State and the Loyal Orders ignore the wishes of the community and have now criminisled a large section of us.

  6. A big thanks to Mackers for publishing GARC's statement and for free speech everywhere!

  7. How the brits and unionist must feel to see two of Ardoyne,s finests (larry marley &martin meehan)sons so divided on this issue ,party loyalties should be put aside and everyone in Ardoyne stand together against these unwelcome coat-trailing exercises.

  8. Ardoyne Republican I am amazed that you would want to breath the same air as these people from CARA let alone form a collective.
    If it is true and I am quite sure it is that this CARA group actively enlisted the help of the PSNI to arrest and charge members of their own community, why would you touch them even with the help of a barge pole?

    Alfie, they don't have a right to parade anywhere. Their marches have toss all to do with culture they are triumphalist and sectarian and should be totally banned unless they are heading in the direction of a cliff of course then they should be encouraged.

  9. Alfie,
    Just to clarify my point. Multiculturalists and especially Liberal muticulturalists are usually of the opinion that culture and identity should always be given respect and recognition in any society.
    They tend to be of the opinion that a persons culture and respect for it is an intrinsic feature of a good society.
    However even amongst these theorists you would be hard pushed to find one who would even venture to call what takes place here as culture.
    Any that I ever read, cited their triumphalist behaviour as appalling rather than cultural.

  10. What was the out come of your talk.Can you share any progress between the groups?

  11. Tree Hugger, the simple reason as to why Joe Marley and Martin Og hold differing views on sectarian parades through Ardoyne is because on the one hand, Joe is a member of Provisional S/F, CARA and works with Winkie Irvine, a UVF Commander who is in charge of the North & West Belfast Parades Forum which speaks for the Loyal Orders.

    CARA was initated by Gerry Kelly and PSF to facilitate these marches and spilt the local community around this very sensitive issue.

    Whereas, Martin Og is a member of RNU and GARC. CARA represent a section of Greater Ardoyne residents, while GARC speak for the remainder of the community. Unlike Joe, he is totally opposed to facilitating bigoted parades.

  12. Nula, GARC asked CARA for a unified front to oppose these marches long before the Court Case took place.

    It was CARA who rejected the idea, after five (Who are PSF members)out of nine consulted with their local PSF Cumann and Gerry Kelly.

    I wouldn't imagine that GARC would ever make that offer in light of the Court Case.

  13. Fionnuala,

    'However even amongst these theorists you would be hard pushed to find one who would even venture to call what takes place here as culture.'

    Firstly Happy New Year. Define culture.

  14. There was one united group in ardoyne a few years back in was called the Ardoyne Parades Dialouge Group.The APDG was a representative group of Ardoyne residents concerned to bringing a peaceful solution to Orange marches passing through ardoyne. It fell apart when it was collapsed by sinn fein and their paid community workers who indulged in secert meetings and briefings with selected residents (sinn fein supporters)and excluded others within the local community. It was after the collapse of APRG that SF set about organising a residents group C.A.R.A. This group with the "help" of SF proposed a "solution". The solution proposed was that the orange order would be permitted to walk through Ardoyne on the morning of the 12th but would not be permitted to return on the evening. This proposal has NEVER been put to the residents of Ardoyne to see if they support it,the orange order, loyalist paramilitaries, the parades commission had rejected this as a solution and through this concession back in their faces.

  15. Alfie,

    Happy New Year - thank you for your earlier mention. I hope your condition continues to improve into 2012.

    'The Loyal Orders argue that they ought to be allowed to parade wherever they want.'

    The insistence is not on marching where we want and not specifically desiring to march through Catholic residential areas. If that were our position one would expect to see that being manifested in attempts to open up new parade routes. Our position is no different from Republicans if confronted by a changing Protestant/Unionist demographic around Bodenstown graveyard, for example, insisting that no other cultural or commerative expression was to be permitted in 'their' area despite their being a long Republican tradition of doing so. Your argument while having a semblance of moderation and sensibility would none the less require Republicans to conduct Wolfe Tone events in Sallins or Naas being that they provide public spaces. That in my opinion would be grossly unfair and an infringement of their civil liberties to impede events or legislate for their removal.

  16. Fionnuala,

    Would you disagree with any of the following definitions?

    Banks, J.A., Banks, & McGee, C. A. (1989). Multicultural education. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

    "Most social scientists today view culture as consisting primarily of the symbolic, ideational, and intangible aspects of human societies. The essence of a culture is not its artifacts, tools, or other tangible cultural elements but how the members of the group interpret, use, and perceive them. It is the values, symbols, interpretations, and perspectives that distinguish one people from another in modernized societies; it is not material objects and other tangible aspects of human societies. People within a culture usually interpret the meaning of symbols, artifacts, and behaviors in the same or in similar ways."

    Damen, L. (1987). Culture Learning: The Fifth Dimension on the Language Classroom. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

    "Culture: learned and shared human patterns or models for living; day- to-day living patterns. these patterns and models pervade all aspects of human social interaction. Culture is mankind's primary adaptive mechanism" (p. 367).

    Hofstede, G. (1984). National cultures and corporate cultures. In L.A. Samovar & R.E. Porter (Eds.), Communication Between Cultures. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

    "Culture is the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one category of people from another." (p. 51).

    Kluckhohn, C., & Kelly, W.H. (1945). The concept of culture. In R. Linton (Ed.). The Science of Man in the World Culture. New York. (pp. 78-105).

    "By culture we mean all those historically created designs for living, explicit and implicit, rational, irrational, and nonrational, which exist at any given time as potential guides for the behavior of men."

    Kroeber, A.L., & Kluckhohn, C. (1952). Culture: A critical review of concepts and definitions. Harvard University Peabody Museum of American Archeology and Ethnology Papers 47.

    " Culture consists of patterns, explicit and implicit, of and for behavior acquired and transmitted by symbols, constituting the distinctive achievements of human groups, including their embodiments in artifacts; the essential core of culture consists of traditional (i.e. historically derived and selected) ideas and especially their attached values; culture systems may, on the one hand, be considered as products of action, and on the other as conditioning elements of further action."

    Lederach, J.P. (1995). Preparing for peace: Conflict transformation across cultures. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press.

    "Culture is the shared knowledge and schemes created by a set of people for perceiving, interpreting, expressing, and responding to the social realities around them" (p. 9).

    Linton, R. (1945). The Cultural Background of Personality. New York.

    "A culture is a configuration of learned behaviors and results of behavior whose component elements are shared and transmitted by the members of a particular society" (p. 32).

    Parson, T. (1949). Essays in Sociological Theory. Glencoe, IL.

    "Culture...consists in those patterns relative to behavior and the products of human action which may be inherited, that is, passed on from generation to generation independently of the biological genes" (p. 8).

    Useem, J., & Useem, R. (1963). Human Organizations, 22(3).

    "Culture has been defined in a number of ways, but most simply, as the learned and shared behavior of a community of interacting human beings" (p. 169).

  17. Robert,
    Yes, a very happy new year to you also and everyone else on the 'TPQ'
    Firstly, you asked me to describe culture and then you provided the definitions for me.
    I know what culture is and there are many, many cultural practices that I find distastful and quite shocking such as female mutilation.
    I also find the way animals are killed in certain cultures quite shocking including our own, however inspite of all this in my head I can sort of understand that it is learned behaviour and people behaving within the dictates of their social and cultural norms.
    Triumphalism and raw sectarian bigotry is not culture. The hatred may have been generated through the process of primary and indeed secondary socialisation but the end product is not culture.
    Do you think the behaviour of the Klu Klux Klan is cultural as opposed to fundamentally extremist?

  18. Robert,

    Good to see you back on the Quill!

    If the area around Bodenstown cemetary were to become a built-up residential area that objected to republican commerations, I think it would be appropriate and considerate of republicans to limit parades to Sallins town centre since that could be easily done. That said, Bodenstown cemetary itself is a legitimate public space and I can see no circumstances in which I would prohibit a dignified republican ceremony there.

    In any case, what is so important about the historical routes of Orange marches that they cannot be changed, even in minor ways?

  19. Fionnuala,

    I think we have established that loyal order parades are a cultural expression. You evidentally do not agree with or like it but critique in itself doesn't diminish it's cultural status.

    'Do you think the behaviour of the Klu Klux Klan is cultural as opposed to fundamentally extremist?'

    The Klan and it's behaviour, which I abhor by the way, constitutes by definition a subculture while remaining fundamentally extremist.

  20. Robert,
    Sorry I have just re-read your post and realised that you asked me did I disagree with any of the statements.
    I don't think culture can pinned down to one interpretation. High, low culture, mod culture or classical culture are not fixed terms they change over time and cannot be viewed as constant.
    Yet they are culture, everyone experiences youth culture for a fleeting period only but because it is a set of beliefs shared, practiced and experienced by a relatively large group it fits with culture.
    Orange marches did not come about through shared experiences, beliefs and practices.They were not the result of some kind od planter socialisation practice which was passed from one generation to the next.
    They are essentially about one community lording it over another.
    They are under-pinned and driven by raw sectarian hatred.
    Robert you can roll out as many theorists as you like, but it your argument is square peg in a round hole thinking.
    Unless of course you can find a theorist who believes that culture is fundamentally based on oppression, supremacy and blantant sectarian hatred.

  21. If its cultural to have bigoted sectarian marches through area,s in which they are not welcomed which incidentally are part funded by the tax payer,then surely it should be a cultural event to oppose these marches and equally so funded by the tax payer,the only contribution to culture from these marches by the lol that I can see is to the booming drink and drugs industry

  22. The Orange Order is a sub-culture that adheres to an even greater elitist culture that clearly discriminates against Catholics. The monarchy and its government with outrageous and clearly defined discriminatory laws with prejudice protecting Protestant elitism ensuring no Catholic may sit on the throne.

    If these laws were repealed, would the “sub-culture” of the Orange Order redefine its cultural allegiance? Clearly, it would have no choice other than redefining their fanatical belief system.

    Clearly, they can argue their right to march but there is no argument as to why these sectarian laws still exist in modern times other than elitism where one culture dominates over another.
    In other words, sectarian law gives them the right to act out their sectarian culture.

    End the discriminatory laws and I am certain the Order would not be so enthusiastic about banging its drums.

    On a moot point, I always found it amusing as to why the sash was born in Derry and not Londonderry seems a little cross-cultural reference needs amended.

  23. Marty,

    Happy New Year!

    '..then surely it should be a cultural event to oppose these marches and equally so funded by the tax payer..'

    Absolutely - there is of course a festival element to GARC's protest to the extent that 'residents' are travelling from all arts and parts to attend! Greater Ardoyne indeed! Marty the clean up is funded by the tax payer.

  24. Robert states"if confronted by a changing Protestant/unionist demographic around Bodenstown graveyard" then republicans would find themselves in a similar situation that the lol find themselves in today,however if that scenario were true and "loyalists " acted true to form,then Bodenstown would be many if any unionist areas have any memorials to those of 98 I remember reading about a memorial to Betsy Gray being destroyed and I,m sure that wasnt an isolated incident .

  25. Robert happy new year to you a cara,since we are in agreement that these contentious marches and opposition are a considerable burden on the public purse and in this time of recession where "money is tight" shouldnt we as good citizens call time on this expensive waste of taxpayers money.