[Sinn Fein]

9 August 1996

Sinn Fein announces voluntary re-routing

Sinn Fein Belfast City Councillor, Pat McGeown made a statement today in reference to the voluntary re-routing of Sunday's anti-internment march.

He said:

``In the spirit of seeking an accommodation on the issue of contentious parades, Sinn Fein accepts that while we have a right to march there are parts of this city where such a march might be perceived as provocative or offensive. Sunday's anti-interment march will be voluntarily re-routed away from any area where concerns have been raised.

``In that context we have sought meetings with residents groups in areas like Suffolk and the Ormeau Road, to engage with them in a dialogue which would lead to agreement on marches. Indeed we are still trying to forge these contacts.

``However unionist residents have so far refused requests for meetings and contact.

``Regrettably, in recent days some unionist representatives have tried to increase sectarian tensions. In particular the Unionist councillor from East Belfast Jim Rodgers issued a statement about a ``flashpoint'' on the Ormeau Road and UDP spokespersons challenged a ``republican march across Millfield. Sunday's march will pass neither area.

``It is clear that the hidden agenda behind these spurious claims is the desire of Councillor Rodgers and others to block Sunday's march from going into the city centre.

``It is obvious that Councillor Rodgers has still not accepted the fact that this is our city also and that nationalists and republicans have as much right to parade in the city centre as has anyone else.

``Rather than increasing sectarian tensions Councillor Rodgers should be seeking to reduce tensions.

``For our part Sinn Fein is willing to meet with local residents or their representatives to explain our position and assure them to our desire to respect their views and take action to lesson tensions.

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