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9 July 2010

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The Twelfth: Gerry Adams appeals for calm after Orange Order rejects parades plan

GERRY ADAMS has appealed for calm over the Twelfth period, describing the Orange Order's rejection of draft proposals agreed by the DUP and Sinn Féin to solve the issue of controversial parades as “deeply disappointing”. He warned that unionist and nationalist fringe elements may seek to provoke trouble around the Twelfth.

The Sinn Féin president revealed that he has written to the leaderships of the various marching orders in recent weeks asking to meet with them to receive a briefing on the issue of parades and to discuss with them the role and place of Orangeism in modern Irish society.

“The decision by the Orange leadership sends out a negative message to all progressive sections of our society and is a stark reminder of the sectarian undercurrent that marks the parading issue.”

The Sinn Féin leader also accused the Ulster Unionist Party of “reprehensible behaviour” by “indulging in disgraceful party politics”. Observers believe the decision has been motivated by inter-unionist rivalry.

He said:

“The UUP approach, as articulated by Tom Elliot and David McNarry, has been dictated not by what is best for the community and the future peaceful resolution of contentious Orange marches but by the UUP’s desire to score political points against the DUP.”

Gerry Adams said:

“There are now almost 4,000 parades annually by the various marching orders and most of these pass off peacefully. There are however a small number of contentious parades and the agreement between Sinn Féin and the DUP at Hillsborough is a serious and genuine attempt to provide a legal framework within which this matter can be resolved.

“The proposals currently being processed are a commonsense approach to tackling a very difficult issue. The legislation seeks to protect the rights of the marching orders and the rights of host communities.

“Unfortunately, a section of the Grand Lodge, some of whom are also members of the UUP, are seeking to undermine this endeavour. So too is the SDLP. This is reprehensible behaviour.”

The Sinn Féin president revealed that he has written to the leaderships of the various marching orders in recent weeks asking to meet with them to receive a briefing on the issue of parades and to discuss with them the role and place of Orangeism in modern Irish society.

“I believe a dialogue between us would be very helpful in reducing tensions and creating a climate in which greater understanding could be encouraged.

“This is particularly important in light of the efforts by some on the fringes of unionism and nationalism who seek to provoke conflict and street disorder around the Twelfth.

“This must be strenuously opposed. I appeal to everyone to behave in a dignified manner in the next few days."

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