GARC and The Orange Order in Ardoyne, Belfast

Stating the problem: 1)The Orange Order and their supporters insist Orange Marches continue past and through Ardoyne, arguing that   they follow “traditional”parade routes.It’s a main road and they claim they have the right to march on the Queen’s Highway.

Image result for orange order police escort

Comment: Orange Order marches are so popular in Belfast  that they often need riot police as escorts!

2) The people of Ardoyne do not want  them  in their area. They say  the marches are triumphalist and offensive. Residents  are barricaded into their streets by  Police and Army for several hours each time they occur: in the morning when the march goes by and again in the evening when it returns. Local residents believe this to be a breach of their human rights. The Police Ombudsman  agrees. The practice continues.

Comment: It’s “traditional”.

What’s Ardoyne?

Image result for map of ardoyne, belfast


A working class, mainly Catholic, Irish Nationalist/Republican district in north Belfast, Northern Ireland.

  • *1969: Catholic houses  houses in Ardoyne  were burnt out  by Loyalist mobs
  • *1969 – 1998: *99 ordinary people  (8 women)  from Ardoyne were killed. 
  • *the per capita equivalent of 50,000 people in LA.*The state was ultimately directly responsible for 26 deaths, 28% of the total. Loyalists killed 50 (just over 50%). The IRA was responsible for 9 deaths (roughly 9%), the ‘Official’ IRA for 1 and the INLA for 3.  The youngest victim was Anthony McDowell, aged 12, shot dead by the British army on April 19, 1973, and the oldest was Elizabeth McGregor, aged 76, shot dead by the British army on January 12, 1973.
  • *often relatives  have never been told ‘the truth’ about the death of their loved one. Many speak of a  brutal system that treated ordinary people with contempt and colluded to ensure lack of disclosure, accountability and justice
  • * 2001-2002 Holy Cross protest in which you can see one of the hallmarks of Orangeism/Loyalism in action:They attack Catholic children

2013: the NI Parades Commission banned the evening return Orange Order march, which led to severe rioting,  followed by the illegal  Twadell Avenue Orange protest camp, with nightly Orange marches. After 3 years they were still there, costing almost £24,000 every day to police (estimated total cost £20 million).

This week the Crumlin Ardoyne Residents Association (CARA),  a Sinn Fein  grouping  signed an agreement with the Orange Order and Loyalists allowing them to march “home” on October 1st 2016,

Comment: So they got what they wanted!

and kind removal of their illegal camp, followed by a “moratorium” on return parades.CARA  no longer opposes morning Orange Order marches.

Queries: Will the Agreement   reinforce the sectarian bigotry which is prevalent in a certain mindset?

Will it allow the Orange Order and Loyalists to  act with greater impunity in the future?

TheAgreement has been backed by local politicians, as well as the British and Irish governments.

 From 6.20 on: CARA spokesman Joe Marley explaining why GARC  were not involved and details of the Agreement

What’s GARC?

It’s the Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective.

Image result for garc - reroute the flute


After an independent survey showed 85% of the Ardoyne residents didn’t want Orange Order marches, GARC  want to :








GARC and their hundreds of supporters are annoyed because they weren’t involved in (even  deliberately excluded from?) the talks leading up to the Agreement.

Therefore their views counted for nothing.

In their protest march this evening  the Parades Commission forbade them from walking onto the Ardoyne Road and out onto the Crumlin Road.

Here’s a periscope video of tonight’s GARC march in Ardoyne



1) Allowing residents to march in protest only up and down their own streets   indicates a repressive policy, which

2) re-echoes the breach of their human rights as they are hemmed into their houses to permit Orange parades to pass by. Now they are hemmed into their own streets if they want to protest.

3) The refusal to consider the sensitivities and views of  a large number of Ardoyne people, considering what they have gone through since 1969 right up to the Holy Cross Loyalist protests, does not indicate  “parity of esteem”. 

4)  Letting people know their views don’t count humilitates them. Has a modern version of “Croppies lie down” been played out in Ardoyne?

5) Since GARC’s  banner shows they are against Sinn Fein policy,   it  looks like  Sinn Fein will haemorrhage hundreds of votes in Ardoyne. Presumably they have factored that into whatever their hopes are at  forthcoming elections.One thing is sure – they’ll not pick up votes from the Orange Order!

PS GARC intend to protest the Orange Order return march early Saturday morning.The Parades Commission has limited GARC to 60 participants .

To facilitate the orange order “home” march, approximately 600 PSNI in riot gear were deployed at entry points in the nationalist area alongside armoured land rovers and crush barriers while a police helicopter hovered overhead.

GARC spokesman Dee Fennell said: “We have seen hundreds of PSNI officers caging in this community in order to facilitate an unwanted sectarian parade. The vast majority of residents have rejected all sectarian parades and we have seen a heavy military operation which defeats the notion that there is widespread community support for this deal.”


2 thoughts on “GARC and The Orange Order in Ardoyne, Belfast

  1. Across the line

    Many lines are so finely drawn
    In Belfast town, hard to see the divide
    difficult to know when you have crossed
    the divide into, another
    Dimension of hatred and bigotry

    A name, a word, an incident
    spoken in the wrong place
    at the wrong time earns you
    the eternal right to die,according
    to the unspoken law of bigotry.
    you strayed across the line into our area.
    That area – do you belong in it?
    Are you A Jewish catholic,
    a Hindu catholic, a protestant Jew
    Or Hindu protestant.
    It does not matter.

    You are not one of us?
    Who are we? We are the “people”

    we hate everyone
    No discrimination we just hate,
    all of you Catholics.
    We have huffed and puffed then blown
    Your lives away
    Tortured slaughtered,
    Especially in the romper room
    on a pleasant Sunday morning
    having a wee drink before church.

    Belfast, Belfast we love our town
    you are very welcome as long
    as you don’t Stray across the line.
    Once you do you’ll be lucky,lucky,lucky
    if we, the people, let you leave.
    Remember this is our town
    don’t stray across the divide.

    1920 to 2016 still the same hate prevails

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Welcome to the site Patrick . I presume your poem is the expression of your own thoughts and feelings so thank you very much for sharing it with us. It certainly expresses very succinctly the message I have tried to get across in so many posts. Please feel free to send us more of your work if you want to.

    Just a note here for readers who may not be familiar with the term “the romper room” which Patrick uses in line 25.

    The term was originally linked to a “play room for small children ” but soon took on horrific connotations for the catholic/nationalist/republican population in Belfast.

    Davy Payne, the North Belfast self-styled “Brigadier” of the notorious Ulster Defense Association (UDA) set up‘romper rooms’ in Belfast in the early 1970s. Payne was a Free Presbyterian, a member of the Orange Order and a former British Army paratrooper. (Ticks all the boxes, do I hear you say?).

    Romper Rooms were set up for the purpose of beating, torturing and killing random Catholic men and women that the UDA abducted from nationalist areas as part of their violent, retaliatory campaign against the catholic/nationalist/republican population .
    Romper rooms were located in various empty buildings or rooms in pubs and clubs in Loyalist areas of Belfast .

    Although mainly reserved for Catholics, Protestants who failed to toe the line also wound up there. The most infamous Romper Room murder was the torture and death of protestant Ann Ogilby at the hands of UDA women while her 6 year old daughter screamed and cried outside the room.

    The UDA was allowed free rein in northern ireland for over 20 years. It remained a legal organisation until it was banned on 10 August 1992 when the British Government could no longer ignore accusations that it was primarily engaged in terrorism.It killed hundreds of people during the Troubles in Northern Ireland and often used the cover name, the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) to claim responsibility for sectarian murders. The UFF was formed in 1973 so the UDA could avoid being proscribed as it went about its murderous campaign.


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