[Sinn Fein]

17 October 1996

McGuinness calls on Apprentice Boys
to talk with Residents' Group

Sinn Fein Ard Chomhairle member Martin McGuinness has urged the Apprentice Boys of Derry to take the necessary leap of faith and to engage in face-to-face discussions with the Bogside Residents' Group.

Mr. McGuinness said:

``It is disappointing to find that the Apprentice Boys appear to have retreated from the position adopted in August, when the organisation met with the Bogside Residents Group on several occasions. Significant progress was seen to have taken place with the Apprentice Boys' recognising that dialogue and discussion were vital ingredients in the search for agreement and accommodation.

``Unfortunately, the Apprentice Boys organisation has reverted to the all too familiar `No Surrender' mentality of unionism, which history has so painfully taught the people of Ireland can only lead to confrontation. Their insistence on marching on the walls at a time of their choosing undermines the considerable efforts that were made to reach a mutually satisfactory resolution to this highly sensitive issue in Derry.

``The decision to parade this weekend, which is not a traditional march, threatens to move us back to square one. I believe that it proves that the only rationale behind these marches is to put the stamp of supremacy on the right of the Loyal Orders to march where and when they wish. It gives credence to the widely-held belief in Derry that the Apprentice Boys are not interested in addressing the fears and concerns of Nationalists so ably articulated by the Bogside Residents' Group.

``It should not be forgotten that the Bogside Residents' Group were largely instrumental in diffusing the tension and anger which existed among Nationalists in this city during the summer. This at a time when the gut reaction of thousands of people in Derry was that the Apprentice Boys would not march anywhere on the West Bank.

``The Bogside Residents' Group played an integral role in ensuring that the Apprentice Boys were able to march in August and I feel it will be extremely unfortunate if the Apprentice Boys decide to abandon the option of negotiation in favour of confrontation.''

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