Republican News · Thursday 06 July 2000

[An Phoblacht]

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 being attacked.

``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 picture''.

``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 this move.''

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 bill.''

Contents Page for this Issue
Reply to: Republican News