It’s an open secret that Sinn Féin’s influence has been reduced to some extent in North Belfast Republican communities in general and Ardoyne in particular. Much of it seems to centre on members of the Republican Network for Unity creating or supporting alternatives to community structures long dominated by the shinners (though people supportive of other political groups and none are clearly involved too)
Gerry Kelly’s statement supporting the SF dominated CARA (Crumlin Ardyone Residents Association) and attacking Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (GARC) following the Loyalist ‘Tour of the North’ parade indicates where SF see their challenges in North Belfast – with a nationalist residents group, not unwanted parades:
GARC is self-styled, non-elected and constituted, it would seem, for the sole purpose of undermining other residents groups and undermining possible peaceful resolutions to existing issues.
The GARC claim they were set up:
In September a meeting took place in Ardoyne Hall attended by a large group of local people, most of who left after being informed that they couldn’t be members of C.A.R.A (a Sinn Fein dominated group with their own agenda which represents no-one’s interests other than their own) because they didn’t live within a particular catchment area.
Though as I noted back in 2008 when SF started to lose influence in the St James area of West Belfast they come out fighting, so Kelly’s attitude to a group of residents outside his party’s control is nothing new.
ADDS: The GARC have adopted a slogan of ‘No Parades, No Violence’ – and I agree with Gerry Kelly they should be challenged over this. It is a ridiculous phrase and reads like a threat.
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