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23 June 2005 Edition

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British sop to DUP as Orange mobs rampage

BY SEÁN BRADY

The past week has witnessed worrying and frustrating developments in the North. The start of the Orange marching season has been marked by an orgy of violence directed at the nationalist community.

The attacks have been made possible by the stance of the Orange Order in attempting to force the issue of parading through nationalist communities and denying the need for dialogue with residents. The Order has been backed to the hilt in all of this by the DUP.

What is of most serious concern has been the willingness of the British Government to accommodate the worst excesses of Orange and unionist intransigence, with the outrageous and totally unjust arrest of Belfast republican Seán Kelly.

Kelly has been a well-known and positive force in preventing interface violence in North Belfast. His re-arrest was a blatant sop to the DUP, who had briefed that Secretary of State Peter Hain was too pro-republican. It is also seriously politically foolish, taking place as it does during a very serious and sensitive process of internal debate within the IRA.

Sinn Féin MP Conor Murphy said Kelly's re-arrest might deter republicans from going out on the streets to try and quell law and order situations but dismissed the idea that it would impact on the IRA's current process of internal debate. "Those behind the arrest will probably hope that happens," said Murphy but the IRA is a "much more mature" organisation than that".

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said Kelly's arrest was either based on substantial evidence or was a grave mistake. He said he would be viewing the nature of the evidence.

Orange Order grandstanding, DUP intransigence and loyalist attacks against the nationalist community are unacceptable and unjust burdens of a failed political past. The British Government has a crucial responsibility towards developing a process that moves the situation into a better future based on justice and equality of treatment. Dangerous sops to unionism at a time when it is providing excuses for violence on the streets are nothing short of reckless.

The past week has witnessed worrying and frustrating developments in the North. The start of the Orange marching season has been marked by an orgy of violence directed at the nationalist community.

The attacks have been made possible by the stance of the Orange Order in attempting to force the issue of parading through nationalist communities and denying the need for dialogue with residents. The Order has been backed to the hilt in all of this by the DUP.

What is of most serious concern has been the willingness of the British Government to accommodate the worst excesses of Orange and unionist intransigence, with the outrageous and totally unjust arrest of Belfast republican Seán Kelly.

Kelly has been a well-known and positive force in preventing interface violence in North Belfast. His re-arrest was a blatant sop to the DUP, who had briefed that Secretary of State Peter Hain was too pro-republican. It is also seriously politically foolish, taking place as it does during a very serious and sensitive process of internal debate within the IRA.

Sinn Féin MP Conor Murphy said Kelly's re-arrest might deter republicans from going out on the streets to try and quell law and order situations but dismissed the idea that it would impact on the IRA's current process of internal debate. "Those behind the arrest will probably hope that happens," said Murphy but the IRA is a "much more mature" organisation than that".

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said Kelly's arrest was either based on substantial evidence or was a grave mistake. He said he would be viewing the nature of the evidence.

Orange Order grandstanding, DUP intransigence and loyalist attacks against the nationalist community are unacceptable and unjust burdens of a failed political past. The British Government has a crucial responsibility towards developing a process that moves the situation into a better future based on justice and equality of treatment. Dangerous sops to unionism at a time when it is providing excuses for violence on the streets are nothing short of reckless.

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