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7 August 1997 Edition

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Calls for Apprentice Boys to talk

By Mick Naughton.

A united call for the loyalist Apprentice Boys to talk direct came this week from nationalist communities across the six counties. From Derry to Newtownbutler and Roslea in Fermanagh and Dunloy to the Lower Ormeau Road in Antrim the message was clear, talk with us not around us.

It is this sticking point which last year led to violent scenes outside Dunloy as loyalists returning from the Apprentice Boys parade in Derry city converged on the small north Antrim village. This year has witnessed further loyalist brutality in the Fermanagh village of Newtownbutler when the RUC struck out at nationalist protesters, leaving six badly injured last Sunday evening during a Royal Black Preceptory parade.

In Derry the Bogside Residents Group have given the go-ahead for the Apprentice Boys to parade around the city's walls after the re-routing of feeder parades in Dunloy, Bellaghy and the Lower Ormeau. The Bogside residents said that while the forced re-routing of marches was not the ideal solution, they were prepared to withdraw any protests. They also agreed to drop plans for a massive five-pronged march in Derry on Friday night. Their committee will put its recommendations to a public meeting of other residents on Wednesday evening.

Their position was summed up by spokesperson Donncha Mac Niallais who stressed they had never sought to undermine the right to march. ``Right from the very beginning, the BRG has sought to create an environment in which Apprentice Boys parades in Derry could pass off peacefully. Creating such an environment has, in recent years, been made more difficult by the issue of feeder parades in areas such as the Lower Ormeau, Bellaghy and Dunloy.'' In light of the BRG decision senior Apprentice Boys have called on all members to show respect on Saturday.

Ignoring the demands for dialogue former loyalist life prisoner Kenny McClinton and DUP Derry spokesperson Gregory Campbell are scheduled to speak at an `Ulster Civil Rights' rally in the Waterside on Thursday evening. Last year McClinton attended a support rally with the former DUP MP Willie McCrea after the Loyalist Volunteer Force was formed in the wake of the expulsion of Billy Wright from the UVF.

 


;Meanwhile Fermanagh council chair, Patrick McCaffrey, has called on the British government to halt this weekend's contentious parades. His comments came as the RUC announced it had rerouted a march in Roslea this coming Saturday evening. The Black Institution has refused to meet leaders of the Newtownbutler Area Residents Association while in Roslea the `Gordon and Nixon' Memorial Lodge has also refused to talk with the Roslea Reroute Sectarian Marches Group. They both cite the presence of Sinn Fein residents as the basis for their refusal. This spurious reason has been rubbished by the residents groups involved as simply another stalling tactic aimed at not having direct talks.
The RUC have decided to allow the Royal Black Perpceptory to parade no further than their hall on the Lisnaskea Road on the outskirts of Roslea. In Newtownbutler the RBP plans to hold morning and evening marches on its way to and returning from the main Black Institution demonstrations at Maguiresbridge.

Local Sinn Fein councillor Brian McCaffrey called for direct dialogue and said it was the only way for agreement. ``Dialogue is the only way on this matter. Sitting down and talking is the way to find a solution and the time for all these coat-trailing displays of triumphalism to cease.''
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