[Sinn Fein]

8 June 1998

Provocative Orange Marches should be banned

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP, speaking at a press conference in Belfast this morning said:

``There is a head of steam building up around the so-called Tour of the North - an Orange march in north Belfast which passes through nationalist areas. To date there has been no effort to broker an accommodation. This is a matter of deep concern.

``Last year this British government faced its first real test on the Garvaghy Road. It failed that test. The Orange Card triumphed.

``The decision to allow that march had in fact been taken weeks earlier, as we all discovered with the leaking of an internal British government report.

``There was a palpable sense among nationalists last summer that this was evidence that the British had been involved in a planned betrayal of the residents of the Garvaghy Road.

``This year the relatively small number of contentious marches by the loyal orders are fast becoming for many nationalists an acid test of this governments commitment to change the status quo. Will the orange card triumph again ?

``In recent days I have raised these matters with both the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and US President Bill Clinton. Following the events of last year the expectation among nationalists is that these parades should be banned and that nationalist rights should be upheld. This expectation has been heightened by the Good Friday agreement.

``There is a huge onus on David Trimble to face up to his responsibilities. He is the MP for Portadown. He should talk to his constituents. He should be pro-actively seeking to defuse this crisis situation. So far he has refused to do so.

``There are thousands of parades each year and Sinn Fein has consistently upheld the rights of the marching orders. That a small number of contentious parades are ignoring the wishes of the vast majority of people, or that those involved refuse to even talk to their neighbours, is a disgrace.

``If we are to avert a major crisis in the coming weeks then the Irish and British governments need to move now to resolve this matter, not when the crisis is upon us. The Good Friday document, under Rights, Safeguards and Equality of Opportunity, specifically establishes `the right to freedom from sectarian harassment' as a fundamental human rights. If this is to mean anything the British government must stand up for equality and human and civil rights and defend the rights of residents.

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