Sinn Féin delegation to meet British on Parades issues
Sinn Féin Assembly member Gerry Kelly will lead a party delegation including Assembly members Alex Maskey and Fra McCann to meet with the British Security Minsiter Shaun Woodward this evening at 7pm in Stormont Castle. The meeting which is at Sinn Féin's request is to discuss the upcoming marching season and in particular the small number of controversial Orange Parades still seeking to march through nationalist areas, without the agreement of the host community.
Speaking before the meeting Mr Kelly said:
"Over the past number of summers the volume of violence and disruption associated with Loyal Order parades has been reduced significantly due to work on the ground. However there remains a small number out of the thousands of parades which have the potential to cause community conflict. The decision last week to force the tour of the north parade up through the nationalist Ardoyne and Mountainview areas is a case in point..
"The loyal orders must come to the realisation that the days of simply marching when and where they want are over. The loyal orders have a responsibility as parade organisers to ensure that their parades do not cause offence and do not choose routes which give rise to serious community tensions.
"In recent years much good work has been done at a community level to ease tensions in interface areas. Irresponsible behaviour from the Orange Order jeopardised this work. These issues have already been raised with Tony Blair and Peter Hain.
"Our delegation this evening will impress upon Shaun Woodward the need for local communities to be respected and for their rights and entitlements to be upheld. Nationalist communities have displayed a willingness over many years to enter into dialogue with the Orange Order over parades. Unfortunately these advances have been spurned by the Orange Order and in some cases this intransigence has been rewarded with parades being forced through nationalist areas.
"Sinn Féin will do all in our power to ensure that local communities can live in peace and without the fear and disruption associated with Orange parades and the accompanying PSNI and British Army operations. However a massive responsibility still rest with the leadership pf the Orange Order to end its attempts to march through nationalist areas without recognising the concerns of host communities and entering into a process of real dialogue and reaching agreement with them." ENDS