Adams - Dialogue is key to future peaceful parades
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP speaking in Belfast this morning said "The work of nationalist residents and republican activists, which was crucial in ensuring that things remained peaceful yesterday, is only sustainable in the long term if the Loyal Orders engage and reach local accommodations. Sinn Féin's goal is to ensure a peaceful Orange marching season. Forcing triumphalist orange parades through nationalist areas is wrong. That is the lesson of yesterday's successful outcomes. Dialogue works."
Mr. Adams said:
"Yesterday dozens of Orange parades took place in towns and villages across the Six Counties and in large part things remained peaceful. The reason for this is the work done by residents and the restraint shown by nationalist communities, despite their anger that controversial orange parades were forced through their areas. I want to commend the efforts made by republican activists who were on the ground in flashpoint areas throughout the last 24 hours. Over 700 republican stewards were on the ground at flashpoint areas across the six counties.
"Martin McGuinness was on the ground in Maghera, Philip McGuigan in Dunloy, Pat Doherty in Castlederg, John O'Dowd in Lurgan and myself and Gerry Kelly in Ardoyne. There was also contact in some areas with representatives of unionism and Protestant churchmen. I want to make it clear that the DUP played no positive role in any of this. Sinn Féin also took the step of speaking with the PSNI in North Belfast before yesterdays parade to ensure that the violent scenes of last year when the PSNI and British troops attacked local residents were not repeated. Our party was represented by Gerry Kelly.
"The work of nationalist residents and republican activists, which was crucial in ensuring that things remained peaceful yesterday, is only sustainable in the long term if the Loyal Orders engage and reach local accommodations. Sinn Féin's goal is to ensure a peaceful Orange marching season. Forcing triumphalist orange parades through nationalist areas is wrong. That is the lesson of yesterday‚s successful outcomes. Dialogue works.
"There are also a number of very worrying trends this year. These include the role of the Parades Commission which has shown a very clear political bias in relation to key determinations. Their decision to force contentious parades through nationalist areas put a huge strain on local communities and the political process.
"There were also a series of unacceptable sectarian incidents including the erection of a flag in the Ballymena area referring to Michael McIlveen, a young catholic man killed in a sectarian attack only two months ago. Orange bonfires across the north burned images of the 1981 Hunger Strikers, Sinn Féin representatives and banners with slogans such as 'Kill All Taigs'. And last night on the Ormeau bridge members of the Orange Order, wearing sashes, held up five finger salutes, to mock the five people murdered by loyalists in Grahams bookies on the Ormeau Road in 1992. The silence of unionist political leaders in relation to the majority of these incidents speaks volumes.
"In contrast Sinn Fein has proactively condemned attacks on Orange Order property. Such attacks are totally wrong. Sectarianism from whatever quarter is unacceptable and plays into the hands of the bigots.
"I believe that it is time for the Loyal Orders to review their attitude to their nationalist neighbours and they should be led in this effort by their political leaders in the unionist parties. Dialogue and agreement is the only way to resolve these issues. Sinn Féin stand ready to meet with the representatives of the marching orders at anytime. We uphold the right of the Orange Order to march. But clearly they have to talk to their neighbours so that marches are conducted in a way acceptable to everyone.
"There is a need for tolerance, we recognise that orange is one of our national colours, but there is no longer any space for the tolerance of bigoted, sectarian coat trailing exercises. The quiet Twelfth was achieved through a lot of very hard work, but it all points to the need for people to talk." ENDS