Orange Order must end siege
Calls for the Orange Order to end their siege of the Garvaghy
Road have intensified this week as loyalist violence has erupted
in Portadown and Belfast.
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has described the situation as
``hugely dangerous'' and said also that the RUC are ``tolerating
street barricades by loyalists''.
``How many people have been arrested?'' Adams asked, pointing to
the wrongful arrest of Garvaghy Residents' representative
Breandán Mac Cionnaith this week for attempting to diffuse a
potentially violent situation.
``The toleration of people like Johnny Adair and UFF intimidation
of course raises the temperature, but it also raises the
possibility of someone unfortunate arriving at a roadblock and
``The Orange Order are attempting to distance themselves from
responsibility for all of this,'' Adams said, warning nationalists
to be on their guard.
While the Sinn Féin leader believes that ``increasingly elements
of unionism are accepting that we have the right to equality'', he
slammed ``reactionary elements of unionism'' for generating
sectarian tensions this week. ``The DUP are in the leadership. A
lot of the people in the Portadown Orange Order, who are
fomenting this, are members or supporters or fellow travellers of
the DUP. And of course, the UFF and other loyalists are part of
this as well - the responsibility lies with that reactionary
element of unionism.''
Adams was speaking following a meeting with the Taoiseach, Bertie
Ahern, at Government Buildings on Wednesday, 5 July. While the
immediate issue of loyalist violence and the Orange Order marches
topped the agenda, the Sinn Féin President also drew attention to
commitments made by the British Government in May. He made
particular reference to policing and demilitarisation; the
representation of elected representatives from the Six Counties
in the Oireachtas; and Dublin government spending of the
budgetary surplus. Adams raised the failure of the government to
share the wealth of the `Tiger Economy' and the need to focus the
budgetary surplus on rejuvenating deprived areas of the country.
He reiterated his call for calm and called on people to be
vigilant in areas where nationalists are under threat and said to
those contemplating violence to ``keep your eye on the big
``I uphold the right of the Orangemen to march,'' Adams said, ``but
this type of coat-trailing exercise, which is an affront to the
local community, is unacceptable. The business community and
community sectors in unionist areas need to raise their voices,
because Catholics are frightened''.
In response to a question on the DUP motion in the Assembly this
week, calling for Sinn Féin to be expelled from the Executive,
Assembly member for West Tyrone Pat Doherty dismissed the move
as an ``electoral stunt''.
``Many members of the DUP serve on councils and committees
throughout the north with Sinn Féin representatives and under
Sinn Féin chairpersons. It is highly hypocritical of them to make
The DUP were this week accused of `playing musical chairs' when
they decided to resign their representatives on the Executive,
Peter Robinson and Nigel Dodds, only to put another two DUP
members in their place. The Alliance Party deputy leader, Séamus
Close, said that the DUP plan was comical. ``With Peter in and
Peter out, Nigel in and Nigel out, they do the hokey-cokey and
they change them around, that's what it's all about,'' he said.
Meanwhile, Sinn Féin were again busy lobbying in London and
further afield as the Police Bill concluding its committee stage
before it is put to the British House of Commons next week. Party
chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin, Assembly member for Foyle and
South Dublin County Councillor, Seán Crowe, discussed the British
proposals with the leaders of all the main political groupings in
the European Parliament and most of the Irish MEPs.
The Sinn Féin representatives voiced republicans' concerns over
the British government's response to implementing the Patten
Proposals. They acknowledged that MEPs have little direct power
in this area, ``but, clearly, MEPs are influential and we have
asked them to use whatever channels are available to them to give
substance to their views as communicated to us that Patten should
be implemented in full,'' said McLaughlin.
North Belfast Assembly member Gerry Kelly will today be in London
to (Thursday, 6 July) brief members of the Foreign Press
Association and the American press corps on the Policing Bill and
matters relating to the Drumcree dispute.
Kelly will point out that the Peter Mandelson Bill ``fully
addresses only 11 of the Patten Proposals, while `subverting' 89
of the other resolutions. There is insufficient information in
the Bill on the other 75 proposals for Sinn Féin to make a full
response to them.
``There is a massive gulf between the Mandelson Bill and what is
actually needed. Mandelson has failed to go anywhere near what is
required,'' Kelly told An Phoblacht. ``We will continue to lobby
all those who have influence over the formulation of the final