[Sinn Fein]

11 July 1997

Orange parade decision `a welcome breathing space' - Adams

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams at a press conference today in West Belfast welcomed the decisions by the Orange Order which he described ``as a welcome breathing space'' and called on the Orange Order to engage in talks with local residents in contentious areas.

Mr Adams said:

``I welcome and acknowledge the significance of the decisions taken by the Orange Order last night. They have created a welcome breathing space and I understand the many mobilisations which were planned in response to these parades have been cancelled.

``As details emerge of how the Orange Order decision came about I think it will show that there were two factors at work. The mass mobilisations of nationalists and the debate within orangism as it came to terms with this.

``In commending the Orange Order I would like to praise the stand taken by the people of the Garvaghy Road. although brutalised by the RUC and British Army they stood firm for their own rights, and secured the rights of beleaguered nationalist communities in areas like the Lower Ormeau Road . I would also like to take this opportunity to commend all those who supported these beleaguered communities.

``There remains the problem of a number of scheduled contentious parades during this marching season and of course all people of goodwill will want to ensure that this the last year that we are subjected to these difficulties I would urge the local Orange lodges in these areas to immediately enter into talks with local residents. This the only way to resolve these remaining disputed parades.

``A door has been opened which raises the possibility of a durable resolution of this issue. This will be problematic but let us leave no stone unturned in our efforts to achieve this. I would appeal to the Unionist and Orange leaderships to accept the underlying principles of dialogue and equality and respect for each others positions, as the basis for progress. I uphold the right of the Orange men to march. Unionists and particularly the British government, need to uphold the right of nationalists.I call upon David Trimble to build on this decision by positively engaging in a dialogue with nationalists and republicans.

``The British government, following the events of the Garvaghy Road has a genuine credibility problem with nationalists and republicans. They have to address this. Tony Blair needs to demonstrate good faith in dealing with republicans and nationalists by accepting that nationalists and republicans have equal political and civil rights.

``During all of this period Sinn Fein sought, in a very pro-active way, to give measured leadership. We will continue to do so. I appeal for calm. There should be no triumphalism. There is a need for continued vigilance over this sensitive period. There have been particular problems in so called inter-face areas. I would especially appeal for people not together in these areas or to offer provocation to their neighbours.

``The issue in all of this and underpinning all of these difficulties is the lack of equality. The right to equality was asserted on Garvaghy Road and from there extended through Derry to the Lower Ormeau Road and other places in between. The struggle for equality needs to continue. People, including our young people, and remember many of our young people were viciously wounded with plastic bullets, need to take ownership of this demand.

`` In conclusion let me stress Sinn Fein's belief that equality represents no threat whatsoever to the protestant people of this island. The Republican vision is of the unity of Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter. As all of us have to come to terms with the changing times in which we live, I recognise that this poses difficulties for sections of unionism. There can be no going back to the past. These difficulties can be overcome by the leadership of unionism looking positively to the future as - we are.''

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