Orange Parade Revives Tension in Ulster

Fresh intercommunity dialogue is needed to resolve the difficulties surrounding controversial parades in Northern Ireland, said a Catholic priest in Belfast, Northern Ireland, following the most serious outbreak of sectarian rioting in many years. Dozens of police officers were injured during rioting as nationalists, mainly Catholics, protested a decision by the Independent Parades Commission to allow Protestants to march through the Catholic enclave of Ardoyne on their way back to North Belfast from parades in the city center. Police, political and community leaders claimed that the violence was organized by dissident Republicans, still unhappy with the provisions of the 1998 Good Friday Peace Agreement. Police video footage showed that the rioting was well organized: Youths had stones, bricks and bottles stored in rolling garbage bins and were armed with petrol bombs. "There were people here yesterday and the day before whom I had never seen in Ardoyne before, and I have been living here for 10 years—they must have been bused in," Passionist Father Gary Donegan of Holy Cross Catholic Church said.

"No matter who started it, it quickly developed into recreational rioting," Father Donegan added. "There were dozens of kids here texting their friends to come on up to North Belfast for a bit of fun; they were using Twitter and posting pictures on Bebo pages. Once the decision had been made to allow the Orange Order to march through Ardoyne, we were all in a lose-lose situation...This can't continue. We need dialogue to ensure that this kind of trouble does not happen again. We prayed for a peaceful resolution at Mass today and we prayed for that policewoman who was seriously injured and that she would make a quick recovery."

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