ONCE AGAIN, THE LONG-SUFFERING PEOPLE OF BRITISH ULSTÈR ARE BEING SOLD OUT!!!!!
Secret talks are taking place between loyalists and republicans over Orange marches.
And they could lead to the dismantling of the controversial Camp Twaddell peace camp at Belfast’s Ardoyne shops interface.
The Sunday World has learnt that both PUP representatives from the Shankill and Sinn Fein delegates from Ardoyne met at a hotel outside the city last weekend.
The session included an overnight stay in the five-star Slieve Donard hotel in Newcastle, at the foot of the Mourne mountains.
Among those spotted attending the weekend seminar were Winky Irvine from the Shankill, who is still a member of a policing neighbourhood partnership in spite of being fingered as a senior UVF figure in a BBC Spotlight programme, and Ardoyne Sinn Fein Councillor Gerard McCabe.
Another Ardoyne republican, Sinn Fein veteran and ex-City Councillor Gerard McGuigan, was also seen at the Slieve Donard.
“It is not clear if the point of the get-together was specifically about the Twaddell Camp and the continuing impasse over Orangemen walking up the Crumlin Road, past Ardoyne, to their Ligoniel Orange Hall HQ,” said one well-placed source.
“But it would be inconceivable to think they would be there, and not talk about breaking the stalemate still blighting the area.”
Only nights ago, masked protesters dressed in army fatigues, and driving ex-military jeeps, staged a dramatic show-of-strength at the Twaddell ‘Human Rights’ camp.
Sinn Fein accused loyalists then of ramping up already fragile tensions at the interface.
The camp also featured in a Ross Kemp TV documentary, and has been visited by the likes of controversial comic Russell Brand. He called it ‘cool’.
However there has been a growing stream of reports recently that behind-the-scenes talks to try to resolve the long-running stand-off – it was sparked last Twelfth of July when rioting erupted after a Parades Commission ruling barred three Ligoniel Lodges walking back up the Crumlin Road from The Field – are taking place.
“There are moves in the so-called ‘back channels’ to break this deadlock,” said one source on the Shankill yesterday.
“Otherwise this stalemate is set to go on longer than the Siege of Derry.”
The continuing presence of the Camp is also costly: policing costs are estimated to have been running at over £30,000 a day at its height.
However any new behind-the-lines moves seem to be taking place without any Orange Order input.
Just three months ago, in early January, there were reports that Orange representatives were contemplating talking to Ardoyne reps with a senior Catholic priest acting as go-between.
That led to a ‘clear the air’ meeting between Camp protesters and local Orange Order chiefs.
“It was hot and heavy in there,” said one loyalist afterwards who was at the head-to-head said.
“The upshot of the meeting was that there certainly seems to have been talks arranged, but that has all been hit on the head and attitudes have definitely hardened.”
The ‘bottom line’ then was that talks could only take place after the Ligoniel Lodges were allowed to walk their ‘traditional route’ again.
Now, however, there is the Slieve Donard development from last weekend.
“It’s appropriate they’re meeting in the shadow of the Mourne Mountains – for they definitely have a mountain to climb to solve this marching impasse,” said one source last night.
There are growing concerns that time is running out to find a resolution in advance of this year’s marching season.
Ironically last May, the PSNI invited politicians and ‘community’ representatives to a weekend of talks at a Cardiff spa hotel in an attempt to defuse tensions before the summer.
UVF commander Winston ‘Winky’ Irvine was among those invited along with UDA chiefs Jackie McDonald and John Bunting.
In a statement issued after two days of talks in Cardiff, the delegates agreed to keep lines of communication open, especially during periods of tension, as well as reaffirming support for the PSNI and Police Ombudsman.
At the time Assistant Chief Constable George Hamilton, who led the talks, said they had been “candid, honest and frank”.
Despite promising much the talks failed to deliver and Northern Ireland fell into yet another summer of discontent.
Winky Irvine, who has been a prominent figure during the Twadell Avenue stand off, said they were committed to finding a solution to local issues.
A joint statement from all the delegates said conversations “had been candid, honest and worthwhile”.
THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE RESOLUTION TO THE HUMAN RIGHTS CRISIS HIGHLIGHTED BY THE TWADDELL CIVIL RIGHTS CAMP!!!!!!: LET THEM MARCH!!!!!