Today the Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (GARC) condemns the incarceration of Dee Fennel for his participation in a peaceful sit-down protest on the Crumlin Road July 12th 2010, this is just another example of the hypocrisy, bias, political policing and injustice that still exists for members of the nationalist community.
The incarceration of nationalists for peacefully protesting on their own streets shows if proof were needed that the two tier sectarian society has not changed. The promised parity of esteem and equality is nonexistent as we watch absolute carte blanche being granted to loyalists to take over areas, block roads and vandalise all without fear of recrimination.
The First Minister publicly declares that:
nobody but a tyrant would suggest that there should be an end to peaceful protest in public. Who on earth would suggest that it is appropriate that people cannot peacefully and publicly protest about decisions that they do not agree with?
Again we find these are only empty words for nationalist as Ardoyne residents are being treated as second class citizens in their own area.
As long as these unwanted sectarian marches are forced, imposed and facilitated against the will of local residents, it will be the policy of GARC and our supporters to oppose these coat trailing exercises by any peaceful radical means at our disposal, even if it means the unjustified imprisonment of our members.
The residents of Ardoyne are still being treated as second class citizens in their own area, which has been proven on many occasion, this despite the hollow meaningless statements to the contrary made by politicians.
The naked sectarianism of Loyal Order parades has been shown in stark reality by the recent events at St Patricks Church, where ‘the famine song’ was played, the words of which are deeply offensive, provocative, racist and anti-Catholic. Despite committing many blatant infringements of the rulings laid down by the Parades Commission, all without fear of prosecution, the Loyal Orders, also their supporters, receive the full protection and support of the PSNI and Unionist politician, proving a further example of a ’’ Protestant State for a Protestant people’’.
The double standards shown by the PSNI and Judiciary must cause great concern to all those people or organisations that believe in the protection of Civil Rights and Equality.
The Parades Commission have proven they are inept and incapable of resolving the contentious parades issue by their ludicrous decision to allow Loyal Order marches pass down this contentious stretch of the Crumlin Road.
GARC accept that the Protestant, Unionist and Loyalist community have a legitimate right to express their religion, culture, heritage and allegiance to Britain. We do not wish to hinder those rights. However, parades should take place where they are welcome and this is clearly not the case on this stretch of road. These contentious marches only serve to poison community relations and further alienate and polarise our peoples, and all just to pander to the will of a few bigots who use culture as an excuse to mask and impose their outdated and obsolete triumphalism upon our community.
When such parades are permitted we are besieged by the full might of riot-clad PSNI who ensure their passage through our area by all means at their disposal. The Parades Commission's ignorance of our community's right to live free from sectarian fear and intimidation is wholly unacceptable as they continue to treat us like second-class citizens in our own country.
A proposal put forward by GARC is that the Crumlin Road becomes a ‘‘Neutral Zone’’ where no organisation or group from either community will apply to march along this contentious stretch of road. This would defuse the tense and sometimes hostile situations that arise, and will benefit both communities. Our goal (GARC) is to resolve this issue that plagues our area and is a blight upon our people young and old, local business and essential services etc. We have in the past suggested an alternative route in an attempt to facilitate a solution, but to no avail. So far the Loyal Orders have failed to reciprocate our offer.