Arbitrators to tackle community tensions in Ardoyne

The First and Deputy First Ministers have appointed independent arbitrators to deal with differences between the communities in Ardoyne, north Belfast.

The arbitrators – conflict consultants Sue and Steve Williams – are expected to take into account the needs and concerns of the communities involved. The Ministers said that the ideal outcome would be a consensus, however, "the arbitrators are instructed to make a recommendation even in the absence of consensus".

The process will be based on the set of Principles for Building Trust and Confidence, which have already been agreed by the communities involved. It is likely that the arbitration process will include interviews and one or more public hearings, as well as receiving written submissions.

The arbitrators are expected to make their recommendation before the end of July 2002, based on initial interviews, hearings and submissions being completed by mid-July.

On June 7, Mr Trimble and Mr Durkan wrote to elected and community representatives in Ardoyne proposing a way forward on community safety and community dialogue. This followed a series of discussions and correspondence between them and elected and community representatives about how best to reconcile each community’s concerns about safety and how to promote dialogue.

Setting out the next steps, the Ministers said that both communities have expressed commitments to community dialogue, however, a consensus has not yet been reached on the proposal for a wall to be erected around numbers 41-49 Ardoyne Road.

The First Minister and the Deputy First Minister said that they hoped "everyone would play a constructive role in the process and that they were anxious to see outstanding issues resolved as soon as possible before the new school term".


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