[Sinn Fein]

3 July 1998

Resident Rights must be upheld

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP today revealed that:

``Last night I met the British Prime Minister Tony Blair and I spoke to the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern. My colleague, Dara O'Hagan (representative for Upper Bann) spoke to the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition. Today I have again spoken with the Taoiseach, with Mr. Blair and also with the White House, as well as keeping in touch with my colleague Dara O'Hagan who is on the Garvaghy Road.

Mr. Adams said:

``I have made clear to all of those that I have spoken to that Sinn Fein is for an accommodation, for an inclusive outcome, but that it is the Orange Order which is refusing to talk and is threatening to use force against that beleaguered community. The focus this year should be on upholding the rights of the nationalist residents of the Garvaghy Road and in managing this difficult situation. The Orange Order should face up to its responsibilities and voluntarily re-route this Sunday's march. I would appeal to everyone for calm, and we must all ensure that this is the last year that we face this crisis.

``This is an issue of rights - an issue of equality. This is a small nationalist community. The Orange march on the Garvaghy Road is not about religious tolerance, but about intolerance. It is about domination by unionism and orangism over nationalism.

``The stand by the Garvaghy Road residents is not a threat to the religious rights of the Orange Order. The Church service is unaffected. Nor is it about eroding the civil and human rights of Orange members. There are over 3,000 Orange marches every year. Many of these are tolerated by the nationalist communities through which they walk or pass by. But there are a small number of very contentious parades numbering less than one per cent of the total number which give cause for serious concern.

``I want to make it clear that Sinn Fein will play our part in seeking a peaceful resolution of this issue but we will do so by upholding the rights of the residents of the Garvaghy Road.

``If the Orange Order wishes to march along this route it needs to talk directly to the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition. The residents have consistently publicly stated their willingness to pursue such a dialogue. it is also their right to choose their own representatives. They have never tried to dictate to others who should represent them.

``The onus is on the British and Irish governments, but especially the British government, to defend the rights of the residents. The Good Friday Agreement specifically establishes the rights of citizens to live free from sectarian harassment. This right must be upheld.''ENDS

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