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Adams’ parades remarks 'crass and unhelpful'

By Clare Weir

The DUP has slammed comments on parading by Gerry Adams as “crass, irresponsible and extremely unhelpful”.

This latest discord comes just a week after jovial scenes at the finalisation of the Hillsborough Agreement.

In a joint statement to the Belfast Telegraph, First Minister and DUP party leader Peter Robinson and MLAs Nelson McCausland, Jeffrey Donaldson and Stephen Moutray, members of the parades working group, issued a stinging attack on the Sinn Fein chief — saying his comments were in breach of the spirit of last Friday’s Hillsborough Agreement.

Meanwhile the Orange Order has remained tight-lipped on his comments, which suggested Orangemen could “never” parade down Garvaghy Road as long as residents were in opposition.

It has also emerged that members of the Grand Lodge have met with DUP members of the working group on parades ahead of a major gathering next weekend.

“We are deeply disappointed by the statements made yesterday by Gerry Adams in relation to parades,” read the statement.

“His comments were crass, irresponsible and extremely unhelpful. They are contrary to what was agreed to by Sinn Fein at Hillsborough and indicate a move back to the old republican stance.

“Gerry Adams has stated that the right of public assembly is dependent on the consent of residents but that is Sinn Fein speak for cultural apartheid. Where is the vision for a shared and better future, with shared roads and shared public space?

“His comments also breach both the spirit and the letter of the principles set out in the Hillsborough Agreement. Gerry Adams is looking over his shoulders at dissidents and the most extreme elements in his own ranks. This is not a time for political retreat; it is a time for leadership and a time for progress.

“Any move away from what was agreed at Hillsborough will be an act of bad faith and would stymie progress.

“The DUP is committed to finding a resolution to this issue and we will not be party to any report which falls short of the principles agreed at Hillsborough.”

On Wednesday members of the Grand Lodge and the Black Institution met with DUP members of the parades working group.

Next week’s meeting is a pre-planned event which always takes place annually, in addition to existing quarterly gatherings, at which up to 150 members will be briefed on the current situation.

A spokesman for the Orange Order said the members who met with DUP members of the working group would give updates.

“Members agreed that the Hillsborough Agreement was a positive step forward but are now at the deal in detail and on how it plans to more forward on parading,” he said.

“Between 100 and 150 members of the Orange Order will meet on February 20, where they will be briefed on the discussions which took place between members of the Grand Lodge and the DUP members of the parades working group.”

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