SF marshal Orange parades, hold PSNI talks
SF marshal Orange parades, hold PSNI talks

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has accused DUP leader Ian Paisley and his party of having done nothing to ensure a peaceful Twelfth - in contrast to republicans.

Mr Adams was speaking this week following what is traditionally the most tense and violent day of the year, the anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne and its accompanying loyalist parades.

Over 700 Sinn Féin officials were on the ground in flashpoint areas across the Six Counties to steward Orange Order parades, including Martin McGuinness in Maghera, Philip McGuigan in Dunloy, Pat Doherty in Castlederg, John O’Dowd in Lurgan and Gerry Kelly in Ardoyne.

Mr Adams congratulated those who had worked to make this year’s Twelfth one of the most peaceful for decades but said neither Mr Paisley nor any DUP members had helped.

Sinn Féin also took the controversial step of speaking with the PSNI police in North Belfast before the Ardoyne parade “to ensure that the violent scenes of last year when the PSNI and British troops attacked local residents were not repeated”.

The party was represented in the talks by Gerry Kelly, seen as a potential precursor to historic Sinn Féin support for a British-operated police force in the North of Ireland.

“I want to make it clear that the DUP played no positive role in any of this,” said Mr Adams. “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 [last week’s] successful outcomes. Dialogue works.”

Mr Adams said there were also “a number of very worrying trends” this year.

These included the role of the Parades Commission which he said had 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.”

He said his party stood 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.”

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© 2006 Irish Republican News