By Stephen Delaney
SINN FEIN NATIONAL CHAIRPERSON Mitchel McLaughlin has accused the
makers of an RTE Primetime programme of being ``irresponsible and
of putting any chance of a negotiated settlement'' to this year's
parade issue in jeopardy.
McLaughlin warned of the consquences for communities across the
Six Counties if there wasn't agreement and said the programme
makers would have to accept their share of responsibility.
McLaughlin was appearing on PrimeTime on Tuesday 4 March,
answering the programme's allegations that Sinn Fein is behind
concerned residents groups and is exploiting the marches issue.
Reporter Justin O'Brien claimed that Gerry Adams said at an
internal party conference in Athboy, County Meath in November
last year that Sinn Féin had exploited the marching issue and the
residents groups and implied that Sinn Féin was intent on
McLaughlin blasted the programme and questioned its authenticity.
``This programme can only undermine the tireless work of
nationalist residents groups across the Six Counties who are
trying through, peaceful dialogue with members of the Orange
tradition, to come up with a solution'', McLaughlin told An
Phoblacht on Wednesday.
He also pointed out that as Sinn Fein represented 43% of the
nationalist community, ``in every area of the Six Counties you
will find massive Sinn Fein support, of course you will get
members or supporters in these residents committes, just as you
will get supporters of other political opinion''. The party had a
right to be involved in the parades issue, he said.
John Gormley, a spokesperson for the Lower Ormeau Concerned
Community (LOCC), refuted claims of Sinn Féin manipulation,
saying, ``we would point out that the LOCC was formed five years
ago this month following the massacre of five local men and boys
in Sean Graham's bookmakers. We were formed by local residents of
all political opinions. Given this community's past experience of
parades following those and other murders we were determined to
campaign to have future parades rerouted.''
Gormley added, ``over the past five years we have sought and
received the support of a wide range of political opinion,
however at all times we have made our own decisions based on our
assessment of the situation, no one else. We are also concerned
at the release of this story at this delicate point in the run-up
to the marching season when efforts should be concentrated on
facilitating dialogue, not thowing up false barriers to it. We
reiterate our commitment to talking to the Orange Order and
others to resolve this issue. Talking should be everyone's