Carnlough residents' group seeks 'dialogue'

NATIONALISTS in Carnlough have urged members of the loyal orders in the area to follow the example of brethren in Portadown who met Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams recently in a bid to break the impasse over the Drumcree parade.

In a statement issued this week, Carnlough Residents’ Association called on local lodges and parade organisers to take a “historic step and sit down and talk”.

There has been tension surrounding parades in Carnlough and Glenarm in recent times. Last year it was the turn of the Carnlough lodge to host the Braid District Twelfth of July demonstration. The return from the field was cut short, on the instructions of the Parades’ Commission, following representations by the residents’ group.

The commission also banned the playing of music close to the Catholic church in Glenarm during a parade.

And last August the residents’ association organised a silent protest as the local Royal Black Institution preceptory – which comprises members from both villages – paraded in Carnlough at the end of Black Saturday celebrations.

The Carnlough Residents’ Association said it believed the engagement with Gerry Adams was a sign that “the atmosphere has changed and it is now time for the local lodges and the march organisers to sit down and talk with the residents”.

They added: “Unless we can have meaningful face-to-face dialogue then the problem of marching on the Antrim Coast Road area of Glenarm and Carnlough will not go away.

“We, the residents, do not see any problem with an agreed representative of the local group, or an individual being brought in to mediate. We would also see the PSNI as a possible facilitator of this meeting.

“We are appealing for the local lodge and march organisers to take this historic step and sit down and talk.

“We must show the public that we can at least talk to each other.

“This in itself would go a long way in building community confidence and a better understanding of our cultural and historical differences.”

The Orange Order was asked to comment, but failed to respond to our enquiries ahead of deadline.