Ardoyne parade deal: Plea for Garc to halt protest
Church leaders have appealed to a nationalist residents' group to call off a protest against an Orange Order parade in north Belfast.
The Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (Garc) is protesting against an agreement aimed at resolving a long-running dispute in the area.
They are planning to stage a protest on Friday night.
However, a community advert placed in the Irish News said the protest would not help ease tensions.
Among the signatories are politicians, academics and sporting organisations as well as the Catholic Bishop of Down and Connor, Noel Treanor, and the Church of Ireland Bishop of Connor, Alan Abernethy.
It stated: "We believe this is the best opportunity we have had in 15 years to resolve an issue, which has divided our community for many years.
"It is our view the introduction of another evening parade, no matter what part of the community it comes from, would inevitably and regrettably, whether intentional or otherwise raise tensions, damage community relations, and has the potential to end in confrontation and undermine a long sought after resolution."
The agreement to which Garc is opposed was announced last week between the Orange Order and the Crumlin Ardoyne Residents Association (Cara).
The group is billing its protest as a "march and rally to oppose ongoing sectarian parades and SF/UVF deal (Sinn Féin/Ulster Volunteer Force)."
The SDLP has not added its name to the advert.
However, in a statement SDLP North Belfast MLA Nichola Mallon said: "There are genuine frustrations and fears in this community as the weekend approaches.
"However, it is also important that people express their views and feelings in a responsible manner.
"Our advice to Garc is to reconsider their planned parade this Friday, to take a step back and act in the interests of peace in our community."
The Parades Commission has granted permission for Garc to hold their parade on Friday evening subject to a number of conditions - including directing it away from "part of the notified route between Ardoyne Road or Crumlin Road".
Permission has also been granted for Garc to hold a protest parade on Saturday morning.
Garc spokesperson Damien 'Dee' Fennell attended the launch of dissident republican party Saoradh on Saturday 24 September, and Garc has been consistently highly critical of Sinn Féin.