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Kelly responds to Parades legislation announcement

23 February, 2005

North Belfast Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly making his initial response to today's announcement by British Direct Rule Minister Ian Pearson that he will be moving to amend parading legislation.

The North Belfast MLA said, " Last year, apart from the 12th of July, we saw a relatively quiet Summer on the interfaces. This did not come about by accident, it was the direct result of a concerted effort and hard work on the ground. This year, however, we are faced with an early start to the marching season, with the added difficulties created by the political vacuum which has been allowed to develop by the two governments.

" We previously met with Ian Pearson to discuss the issues which he has raised today. We would welcome the fact that the British Government now appear to be moving to deal with the issue of supporters at parades and are taking decision making on this issue out of the hands of the PSNI.

" However, we are disappointed that Ian Pearson has failed to tackle the issue of the militarisation of nationalist areas in order to facilitate sectarian parades. As we saw last year in Ardoyne this issue has the potential to generate serious problems.

" Ultimate resolution of the parades issue requires meaningful face to face dialogue. Residents groups have always been prepared to engage in this.

This has not been the case, though, on the loyalist and unionist side. Instead they have engaged in making bogus statements of intent around the issue of dialogue in a cynical attempt to avoid real dialogue with residents". ENDS

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