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Bloody Sunday Type Situation Narrowly Averted in Ardoyne

22 July, 2004

Sinn Féin North Belfast MLA Gerry Kelly in an exclusive interview in today's issue of An Phoblacht talks about the events in Ardoyne on the Twelfth of July. In the interview Mr. Kelly reveals that a tragedy on the scale of Bloody Sunday was only narrowly avoided that day. He said that ultimate responsibility lies with the British Government. He adds that the NIO securocrats responsible for pushing the Orange march and its hangers-on through Ardoyne, who he describes as "a malign influence over this entire process", need to be reined in by the British.

Mr. Kelly said:

"Clearly, the British Secretary of State, Paul Murphy, is still listening to the securocrats who have been manipulating the system here for the last 30 years and indeed, many years before that. The securocrats are still operating to a pro-unionist, anti-nationalist agenda and are attempting to hold onto the old ways of the discredited Orange state.

"The NIO securocrats are a malign influence over this entire process. The process will not succeed if they are not reined in, because what we are talking about here is the same ethos, the same objectives and in many cases the same people who forced the Orange Order march down Garvaghy Road in 1997 (Indeed, the names of some of those currently involved are to be found on an NIO internal memo which found its way into the public domain at that time).

" The British Government's failure to implement the Good Friday Agreement and instead their policy of giving in to unionist intransigence in whatever form, the DUP, the Orange Order and unionist paramilitaries, is undermining the peace process".

Mr. Kelly says that all the ingredients for another Bloody Sunday were in place in Ardoyne that day. He said it was "a very dangerous and volatile situation which, without the timely intervention of republicans, could have escalated into a bloodbath.

"That this was avoided, and it was avoided by a hair's breadth, was entirely down to a few dozen republican activists.

"The situation was this. A crowd of unarmed civilians, many of them teenagers were facing a heavily-armed and increasingly agitated British Army unit. When a handful of soldiers became isolated within the crowd, one soldier cocked his weapon in readiness to open fire. We all know what can happen when British soldiers start firing into a civilian crowd. We can all remember Bloody Sunday.

"The presence of mind and timely action of republicans in defusing the situation narrowly prevented that. This has nothing to do with how we view the British Army or for that matter the PSNI and most thinking people know that."ENDS

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