27th May 2003
Sinn Fein Willing To Engage
Reacting to remarks made by anti-Agreement UUP MP Jeffery Donaldson Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said:
`` Ulster Unionist Jeffrey Donaldson has challenged me to provide evidence of my good intentions towards Unionism by allowing the Orange Order to parade down Garvaghy Road in Portadown this July'.
`` Mr Donaldson knows that the solution to that particular problem will only be found in dialogue between the Orange Order and the Garvaghy Road residents. The Orange Order has stubbornly refused to talk to the people of Garvaghy Road. It is obvious to me that the issue of an Orange march down Garvaghy Road is an important one for Orangism and for sections of Unionism. I am prepared to use my good offices to facilitate such talks and Sinn Fein is willing to assist in creating a meaningful and genuine process of dialogue so that the Orange Order can meet for face-to-face discussions with the nationalist people of Portadown.
`` The people of Garvaghy Road have always made it clear that they will talk to the Orange men. Mr Donaldson should try to understand their concerns. Neither he nor I can resolve these problems but we can lead by example and we can make it clear that for us the only way forward is through dialogue.
``Sinn Fein is not opposed to Orange marches. In fact most nationalists and republicans show tremendous tolerance. There are almost 3,000 Orange parades every year. I support the right of the Orange men to march. I have said so publicly on many occasions. There are no more than a dozen or so contentious Orange parades. Surely it is not outside the imagination of Orange and Unionist leaders to envisage talking to the people involved. Jeffrey Donaldson as a member of the Orange order should use his undoubted influence to bring this about.
``Many will question Mr Donaldson raising this issue on the cusp of the Orange marching season. Surely it would be more productive to knuckle down to the job of making progress. All of us have responsibilities to do our best to ensure that the marching season is calm and peaceful this year in contrast to other years. For that reason I welcome the announcement of discussions between the UUP, PUP and UPRG. Genuine efforts to bring calm particularly for people in troubled interface areas are crucial. Sinn Fein is willing to engage with anyone on all these matters. This includes the Orange Order and Jeffrey Donaldson.'' ENDS
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