SF comment on SDLP parades statement
after the SDLP produced a paper on the parading issue, Sinn Féin Assembly member for Upper Bann John O’Dowd said that it was crucial that the SDLP, in trying to appear relevant on the issue, did not allow the primary focus - which needs to be on the Orange Order - to shift.
Mr O’Dowd said:
“When the issue of contentious parades is stripped back to its core it is an issue which like so many within the broader peace process can and will be resolved through dialogue and courageous leadership.
“Out of thousands of Orange parades only a very small number are contentious. Residents in these areas have genuine concerns and a collective negative experience of the Orange Order and its worst excesses. The onus is on the Orange Order to deal with these genuine and deeply felt concerns.
“At present the Orange Order refuses to talk to nationalist residents. They refuse to talk to Sinn Féin, the biggest party in the six counties. In recent times the Parades Commission has rewarded Orange Order intransigence with favourable determinations. This has exacerbated an already difficult situation.
“So while the decision making structure around parading is crucial, and Sinn Féin have made a submission to the Ashdown Review, what is required now is for the Orange Order leadership to step up to the plate and begin to enter the real world. The Orange Order leadership have to power to take the heat out of this situation overnight by a declaration that they will no longer seek to march through communities where they are clearly not welcome.” ENDS