15th July 2003
Call For Orange Order To Reassess Their Position
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP has urged the Orange Order to re-assess its attitude to parades through nationalist areas. Offering to meet the leadership of the Orange Order, Mr Adams said that dialogue is the key to mutual understanding and respect and, ultimately, to the resolution of the issue of contentious parades.
Mr Adams call comes after the low key protest at Drumcree and the relatively peaceful Twelfth.
Mr Adams said:
``Sinn Fein is an Irish republican party. We are committed to building a United Ireland in which all sections of the people of this island are comfortable, valued and respected. That includes the significant section of our people who define themselves as British and who identify with Orangism. For this reason, I have always defended the right of Orangemen to march. But this right must be exercised with full respect for the right of others, and in particular, the rights of host communities.
``Those who wish to celebrate the Orange culture must be free to do so but there is no justification for Orange marches taking place where they cause hurt and offence. The reality is that there are areas where Orange marches are regarded as provocative, triumphalist and offensive. The Orange Order do not have to agree with this but should recognise that this is a reality and on that basis should reassess their attitude to parades through nationalist areas.
``At a wider level the Order should review its approach to the nationalist community. Following on from the de-escalation in the Drumcree dispute, the Orange Order now has the space to adopt a new approach which is non-contentious and which is based on dialogue and mutual respect. The Order should begin a process of dialogue with nationalists and republicans to hear and understand their perspective on Orange marches. And, of course, there is a similar responsibility on nationalists and republicans to meet with, listen to and understand the Orange perspective.
``There are only a very few contentious marches each year and we should now set about the task of resolving these through dialogue and agreement. I know that there are difficulties for the Orange Order in all of this but I am available to meet the Orange leadership at any time to facilitate, or as part of, such a process of dialogue.''
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