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Sinn Féin responds to Unionist Parades Forum announcement

16 July, 2004

Responding to a press conference today by the North and West Belfast Parades Forum announcing an intention to engage in some form of dialogue with nationalists in September, North Belfast Sinn Féin Councillor Eoin O'Broin said:

"Sinn Féin along with nationalist residents have for many years been calling for a process of meaningful dialogue between parade organisers and host communities to discuss the parading issue. Indeed the Parades Commission has made dialogue between communities as requirement before a march can take place. There may be some people who will view this announcement as a mechanism to circumvent that requirement rather than a bid to engage in genuine dialogue to find a resolution to this issue.

"Up until now this forum has only engaged in a sort of smoke and mirror approach to dialogue over the Springfield Road parade and engaged in no dialogue over the Ardoyne march. So we have to adopt a wait and see approach to this announcement.

"It is also important to note that there are a series of contentious parades due to take place in the coming weeks so I would urge dialogue to take place now in advance of those marches rather than put off until September.

"This forum which includes unionist politicians and paramilitaries need to acknowledge that a process of dialogue can have no predetermined outcome and that it is legitimate to expect that in a small number of cases a resolution to the issue will involve no parade.

"The actions of the PSNI over the past week in Ardoyne and Lurgan also leave many within the nationalist community without the confidence that even if a resolution between communities was reached that the PSNI on the ground will respect that resolution and stick by it, unlike the approach they have adopted to Parades Commission determinations." ENDS

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