Orange Order challenged over Parades strategy
Speaking in advance of tonight's Tour of the North parade, Sinn Féin Assembly member Gerry Kelly has challenged the Orange Order to explain in very clear terms why they have embarked upon a strategy to poison the political atmosphere at this time. Mr Kelly's comments come after the Orange Order decided to bring major 12th parades to Derry and Portadown and to insist on filing for contentious routes in North, East and West Belfast.
Mr Kelly said:
"Over recent weeks it seems that the Orange Order have taken a decision to increase tensions around the marching issue this summer. The only purpose of this is to poison further an already strained political atmosphere. They have filed for parades along a number of contentious routes and continue to refuse to engage with local communities.
"It is very obvious that a difficult and contentious marching season will not be helpful to efforts to make political progress, whereas a peaceful and quiet summer would have the opposite effect. The Orange Order know this to be the reality also.
"The strategy which they have embarked upon has the potential to undermine efforts to see political progress and many would contend that this is the motivation behind it. At a time when the Sinn Fein leadership and others are trying to put the political process back on track and when the IRA has embarked upon a process of internal consultation it is up to the Orange Order to explain in very clear terms the motivation and purpose of their strategy.
"I would also congratulate the discipline and restraint shown by nationalists and republican communities who have had to endure provocative marches through their areas year in and year out. There has been a consistent and reasonable request for dialogue with the Orange Order, but even that simple request has been rejected out of hand.
"When will we see leadership from unionist politicians who are also members of the Orange Order." ENDS