Dublin Council backs SF Orange motion
BY MARTIN SPAIN
Dublin City Council has unanimously backed a Sinn Féin motion recognising the right of the Orange Order to march in Dublin next month but calling on the Loyal Orders to lift the siege of the Garvaghy Road and enter into real negotiations to break the impasse there. The leader of the Sinn Féin group on Dublin City Council, Christy Burke, urged the Orange Order to respond ``in a positive and constructive manner to a motion which has all-party support among Dublin City councillors''.
After a week of pressure from irate Dubliners, Labour Lord Mayor Mary Freehill was in backpedalling mode on the night. She said that she had never invited the Order to Dublin to march and added: ``You can be absolutely assured that it has never been my intention to be next or near the Orange Order march.'' Sinn Féin has welcomed Lord Mayor Mary Freehill's statement that she will meet with residents of the Garvaghy Road to hear their views at first hand.
Standing Orders were suspended for the debate on Monday evening, 3 April. The leaders of the five main groupings on the council and the Lord Mayor herself spoke before the Sinn Féin motion and a nonconflicting motion from the Labour Party were unanimously passed.
None of those who spoke disagreed with the Sinn Féin proposal, and all drew attention to unease among Dubliners because of the Irange order's sectarian activities in the Six Counties. Fine Gael's Joe Doyle, a former Lord Mayor, made particular mention of the loyalist siege of the Catholic Church in Harryville, County Antrim.
The Sinn Féin motion reads: ``That Dublin City Council defends the right to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, which includes the right of bodies such as the Orange Order to parade peacefully in the streets of our city. In the spirit of mutual respect for diverse traditions and the rights of communities, and mindful of the planned Orange parade and plaque unveiling in Dublin on 28 May 2000, the City Council calls on the Orange Order to enter direct dialogue with the chosen representatives of the people of the Garvaghy Road in Portadown, to lift the siege of that beleaguered community and to finally resolve this issue through real negotiation.''