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Sinn Féin in contact with Paul Murphy over North Belfast Parade

11 July, 2004

Sinn Féin Assembly member for North Belfast Gerry Kelly has accused the Orange Order in alliance with unionist paramilitaries and unionist politicians "of deliberately heightening tensions and threatening violence in order to force an unwanted parade through a nationalist community". Mr Kelly's remarks come after Sinn Féin Chief negotiator Martin McGuinness spoke by telephone with Paul Murphy this morning to discuss this issue.

Mr. Kelly said:

"The decision taken by the Parades Commission to force this parade through nationalist North Belfast twice on the Twelfth was the wrong decision. However having granted the Orange Order the two parades the Order is still threatening violence against the nationalist community in order to be allowed to coat trail through the area along with others which will like previous years include prominent members of the UDA.

"The Orange Order has deliberately taken a decision in alliance with the unionist paramilitaries and unionist politicians to threaten violence and heighten tensions. The recent capitulation by the Parades Commission to similar threats over the Springfield Road parade has encouraged the Orange Order to adopt this approach.

"It is completely unacceptable that the nationalist community is being held to ransom and threatened in this fashion. Martin McGuinness this morning contacted Paul Murphy to make him very clear of our anger at the approach being adopted by the Orange Order and the unionist parties and to make it very clear to him that nationalists in North Belfast and elsewhere will not be abused in this manner.

"Sinn Féin along with many other groups have been working tirelessly over recent months to ensure that this summer remains peaceful. We will continue with that work. However the contribution of the Orange Order and the two main unionist parties to raising tensions and threatening violence makes this task all the more difficult. But despite the obvious provocations I would still appeal to nationalists to remain calm and ensure that protests remain peaceful." ENDS

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