In 2005 Ardoyne had exactly the same problems surrounding the 12th of July parade as those that transpired last night (and it has been going on a lot longer than that). Back then, a full five years ago, 80 police officers were injured during what Gerry Kelly described as control being lost for for a time.
In that distant almost forgotten, for some, era he fully blamed the Orange Order for creating the conditions that resulted in the violence:
The situation was created by the demands of the Orange Order to march along this route and the Parades Commission acceding to that demand…
However the fundamental problem is being sustained. That is unionist and loyalist demands to dominate nationalist neighbourhoods by forcing unwanted sectarian anti-catholic parades through them…
The consistent rewarding of the Orange Order in North Belfast for refusing to enter into a process of dialogue which seeks to resolve this issue is untenable. It is unacceptable. It is a recipe for ongoing tension, disharmony and conflict…
However the PSNI immediately intervened with a baton charge and water cannon. This action disempowered the local residents stewards and for a time control was lost.
The blame game for last night’s riot is now in full flow and Kelly is leading Sinn Féin’s charge again, this time from a white stallion as he rounds on;
“A number of small factions including Greater Ardoyne Residents Coalition, Eirigi and Republican Network for Unity, who had called for a mass mobilisation from outside this community, moved onto the road four hours before the parade was due.
All that was achieved by this was that it undermined local residents and prevented them holding their planned protest.
But it is obvious by the small numbers involved that there was no mass mobilisation here this evening.
Facing almost a mirror of the situation in Ardoyne in 2005 this time Gerry Kelly has only a few words for the Orange Order and they are very much milder with the passage of years:
“I would also appeal to the Orange Order to seriously consider whether year after year these are the headlines they want associated with their parades.
There are only a handful of Orange Order parades which are contentious. It is time that the Loyal Orders faced up to this reality and entered into dialogue with local residents to resolve these issues.”
Seems for Sinn Féin the problem in Ardoyne is no longer focused on unwanted parades but those that oppose them and he isn’t letting them play a ‘control was lost’ (don’t blame me guv) card.