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Sinn Féin meet British Minister on Parade fears

29 June, 2005

Sinn Féin Assembly members Alex Maskey and Caitriona Ruane will meet with the British Minister for political development David Hanson today at 11.45am at Stormont Castle. The Sinn Féin delegation will raise with the Minister concerns about upcoming Orange Parades, particularly in Ardoyne on July 12th and the internment of Sean Kelly.

Mr Maskey said:

"The meeting today was designed to deal with political development, however it could not of course avoid the major problem which we are now facing over Orange Parades given the attitude being adopted by the Order particularly in Belfast towards contentious routes. The Orange Order in Belfast have adopted a confrontational approach to both the Parades Commission and local communities which they are seeking to parade through whereas in Derry I welcome the fact that the Order has entered into a process of dialogue which has seen an accommodation reached.

"At a time when the rest of us are seeking to minimise confrontation and ensure a safe and peaceful summer the Order in Belfast have adopted an entirely contrary course. We are particularly concerned with the demand of the Orange Order to return home after the twelfth parade via Ardoyne. This demand if conceded by the Parades Commission obviously has the potential to cause enormous difficulties.

"These difficulties have of course been exacerbated by the stupid and unwarranted decision of the British Secretary of State Peter Hain to intern Sean Kelly. Many former prisoners are now rightly questioning whether they are prepared to continue to put themselves in the front line trying to stop trouble at parades and interfaces given the treatment which Sean Kelly has received.

"Sinn Féin have put a massive amount of time and effort into securing a peaceful summer. This has in recent years had some significant success. However the confrontational attitude adopted by the Orange Order in Belfast is making this task all the more difficult. The Parades Commission and the British government need to recognise this reality also." ENDS

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