Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 29 July 2015

Gerry Adams rejoins the debate on disputed parades

By Brian Rowan

Published 19/02/2010 | 13:35

Disturbances On Garvaghy Road Portadown May 1998. Rioters hurl stones at RUC riot police on the Garvaghy Road, Portadown, Northern Ireland, during disturbances following an Orange parade in the area.
Orange Order: Drumcree, Portadown
Drumcree Orange Parade At Portadown July 1998. Portadown Grand Master Harold Gracey gives a speech to the crowds outside Drumcree Church of Ireland.
Drumcree Orange Order Demonstration Scarfs drapped around the Road Sign of Drumcree near Portadown
Army Prepare For Drumcree July 2001
Nationalist Protest March At Garvaghy Road March 1998. A young Loyalist waves the Union Jack at Royal Ulster Constabulary police in riot gear, from the Loyalist side of the town of Portadown, Northern Ireland, as a nationalist-republican protest march, passed by peacefully down the Nationalist Garvaghy road.
Orangemen On The Garvaghy Road, July 2000
A petrol bomber on the Garvaghy Road
Orangemen go no further as they reach the barrier at Drumcreee preventing them from marching on the Garvaghy Rd.
Tempers flare as Orangemen are blocked from walking the Garvaghy Rd, Drumcree, July 2000
Nationalist Protest March At Garvaghy Road March 1998. Security Forces kept a Loyalist counter demonstration at a safe distance from Nationalist marchers near Oben Street, Portadown
Nationalist Protest March At Garvaghy Road March 1998. Brid Rodgers and Brendan McKenna in attendance at Garvaghy Road demonstration, Portadown
Drumcree - July 6th 2002. Soldiers erect a security fence at Drumcree Church in Portadown.
An RUC officer fires plastic bullets at rioting nationalists on the Garvaghy Road
An injured woman is led away, Drumcree July 1997
Garvaghy Road Residents Meet With David Trimble May 99. Brendan McKenna arrives at Craigavon Civic Centre to meet the First Minister David Trimble in an effort to solve the Drumcree stand off.
Drumcree July 2000
Drumcree by Tony Hendron
Portadown March at Drumcree bridge July 2002 Portadown District Orangemen parade down to the barrier at Drumcree before trouble flared
Nationalist protesters walk to Garvaghy Road July 1997. Residents Coalition in Drumcree Portadown to voice their anger at Loyalist Parades through their area
Riot Police are called in every night to the Garvaghy Road as the Drumcree Stand Off continues
Drumcree, Northern Ireland. A makeshift road block on main road into Portadown town centre
Mark Harbinson pictured at Drumcree July 2000

Twenty-four hours after loyalist leader Jackie McDonald urged Orangemen to walk away from the Drumcree dispute, Gerry Adams has again entered the marching debate.

In his weekly blog for the Belfast Media Group, the Sinn Fein president warned that society “cannot afford the negative and unsustainable political, financial and social costs from parading disputes”.

Both McDonald and Adams have said there should be no march on the Garvaghy Road in Portadown without the consent of local residents.

Their comments come as a Stormont working group gets ready to report on “a new and improved framework” to rule on parades.

“There are over three thousand Orange marches in the north every year,” Adams writes.

“Generally speaking they pass off without any great fuss, not least because of the tolerance of everybody else. There are a small number of contentious parades which for years caused considerable difficulties.

“One of the big problems incidentally touched on by a loyalist leader Jackie McDonald this week is that the Orange would march into an area where they were unwelcome and leave everybody else to deal with the consequences in the weeks and months afterwards.”

In an interview with this newspaper yesterday, UDA brigadier McDonald attacked “triumphalism” linked to marches, and also criticised Sinn Fein’s involvement with protests, saying that had “polluted” the atmosphere.

In his blog, Adams writes: “That the lid was generally kept on some of these areas is down to local residents and Sinn Fein representatives.

“But there has also been good steady work done by others on the unionist side, including sensible people in loyalist and community organisations.

“Irrespective of the differences between us there is clearly a need to focus on how to resolve the remaining handful of contentious parades in a spirit of mutual respect.”

In Portadown and on the lower Ormeau Road in Belfast, McDonald believes that should involve Orangemen walking away.

Adams says the challenge is “to go beyond settling contentious parades”. “We need to build a new relationship of tolerance and respect,” he writes.

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