6 June 1997 Edition

Resize: A A A Print

Mowlam meets residents

By Eoin O'Broin Mo Mowlam met with Orange Order representatives and loyalist supporters last Wednesday 28 May. The meetings were held in Belfast and Derry with Orange chiefs including Robert Saulters, Apprentice Boys of Derry spokesperson Alistair Simpson, and ORDER activist Pauline Gilmore. The meetings were described as ``crucial'' by Mowlam who hoped that they would ``help alleviate the problems that we have seen in earlier years''. She stressed the importance of dialogue in resolving the issue of contentious routes. The meetings came amid simmering tension over her decision to meet Nationalist residents groups a week earlier. Prior to her meeting, Pauline Gilmore said that Mowlam's ``behaviour last week was diabolical'', and said she would be telling her that ``Sinn Féin-IRA were manipulating residents groups and that the Government should not allow them to get their way''. Mowlam came in for criticism from nationalists when she suggested that Brendan MacCionnaith was ``part of the difficulty we face in the Garvaghy Residents Association''. However residents were furious after Mowlam's remarks, particularly as MacCionnaith was elected as a councillor for Craigavon on a residents platform. The residents group issued a statement expressing its ``complete surprise'' at the comments. Joe Duffy, a member of the Residents Association, also recently elected, said, ``to term Brendan `the difficulty' means that almost 2,000 voters who freely and democratically elected him are also `the difficulty''' Orange letter - intimidatory or just PR? Some of the 1500 nationalist residents who received a letter from the Orange Order informing them of their intentions to march down the Garvaghy Road in July this year welcomed the fact that the Orange Order have, at last, acknowledged ``the objections raised by the Nationalist community''. But the majority are concerned that the Orange Order is in possession of the names and addresses of every man and woman in the nationalist community. Councillor Breandan MacCionnaith of the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition (GRRC) who is the elected representative for the area welcomed communications between Orange Order and residents, only if the Order are being sincere and are not embarking on a PR exercise or an act of intimidation. He said, ``If the Orange Order is sincere in making a gesture of goodwill towards the Nationalist community, then there a number of things which they can do, including entering into immediate dialogue with the representatives of this community whom the people of this area have chosen, addressing a public meeting of the residents in a local community centre and putting forward their viewpoint, and give the nationalist community in Portadown a badly needed breathing space by voluntarily accepting the alternative route''.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1