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Praise for Maghera Residents Initiative

19 August, 2004

Sinn Féin Assembly member for Mid-Ulster Geraldine Dougan has praised Nationalist Residents in Maghera after they took an initiative aimed at resolving a contentious RBP parade in the town planned for Saturday 28th August.

Ms Dougan said:

"Over the summer a number of contentious loyal order parades have taken place through the nationalist town of Maghera. A loyalist band parade with the direct involvement of unionist paramilitary organisations was also forced through the town centre in late July. This came against the backdrop of an ongoing orchestrated campaign of violence and intimidation against the catholic population in South Derry.

"Nationalists in the town are justifiably angry at these recent events. Despite this anger Maghera Residents today met with the Parades Commission and offered a compromise plan which if embraced would see the issues around the RBP parade resolved. The offer of an alternative route and the commencement of immediate dialogue with the parade organisers is a genuine attempt to resolve this potentially serious situation.

"I wish to praise local residents for taking this initiative in what is a difficult climate and I would urge both the Parades Commission and the RBP to grasp this opportunity to find a local resolution to this particular parading problem." ENDS

Statement From Maghera Concerned Residents Group

Appeal To Loyal Orders and Commission To Embrace Local Plan

Spokesperson for the Maghera Concerned Residents, Paul Henry said:

"Nationalist residents in Maghera today proposed to the Parades Commission an alternative route for next weekends RBP parade in Maghera. We have also offered to meet with the RBP and other parades organisers to discuss the issue of loyal order parades in the town.

"This is a genuine effort on our behalf to seek a local resolution to the issue of loyal order parades through Maghera. Our offer of an alternative route for this parade is another example of a town with a large nationalist majority showing tolerance in the face of provocation and puts to bed the lie that nationalist residents are simply opposed to loyal order parades.

It is my hope that the loyal orders and the Parades Commission respond to this initiative in the same spirit. It is our view that this initiative, if acted upon, has the potential to help rebuild community relations in Maghera which have suffered greatly over the summer months due to both loyal order and loyalist band parades through the nationalist town." ENDS

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