There is no doubt that the Parades Commission has become an impediment to dialogue by acting in an arbitrary and inconsistent manner. This may because the Commission is caught between it’s regulatory responsibilities, its inability to understand that it has no ‘public order’ role, and the tendency to accept advice or comment coming directly from politicians (or the NIO) as being of greater importance than the facts before them in a particular and local case.
Tommy Cheevers, Chairman of the North and West Belfast Parades & Cultural Forum, says the Forum is as frustrated as anyone with events around the Ardoyne this past week. For the Forum, which has engaged in dialogue over the past three years, the question now is whether anyone from Ardoyne can speak with any authority on behalf of local residents.
“At one end of the Ardoyne shop fronts a group of people hurled bricks, bottles, and petrol and blast bombs at the police. At the other end of the shop fronts stood another group impatiently waiting for their turn to enter the stage. Neither side was willing to be outdone by the other. Whichever dominates gets to say who does or does not have access to the short stretch of main road in front of some shops.