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Sinn Féin move to reduce sectarian tension in Garvagh

11 May, 2006

Sinn Féin councillor Billy Leonard has written to fellow councillors inviting them to make a joint statement appealing for a reduction in sectarian tensions in the Co. Derry town of Garvagh.

The Cllr. Leonard has approached members from the Ulster Unionist, SDLP and DUP.

Cllr. Leonard said:

"I have written to the other councillors proposing the basis of a joint statement and that we meet next Tuesday evening when we would be together at a Council meeting.

"I have stressed that my thoughts on this approach preceded Michael McIlveen's tragic death but obviously it gives a very poignant and direct concentration. I feel that we can transcend the usual differences and debates on incidents and make a very focused statement on the cancer of sectarianism.

"We must be able to take the lead and stress that people should be viewed as human beings not mere sectarian labels and that difference can be handled without violence to people or property.

"It is essential that we cut across the cul-de-sac debates to make a joint and firm statement that Garvagh does not want sectarianism, that we want tensions to be reduced and that we do all we can to avoid further incidents. None of us compromise our political positions by joining forces against sectarianism.

"There are real worries that things could get worse. Surely we as public representatives can say that things can get better by taking sectarianism out of the picture. "ENDS

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