Northern Ireland

Gerry Adams calls for end to Belfast parade protests

Gerry Adams
Image caption Gerry Adams has called for dialogue between the Orange Order and residents

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has called for an end to the protests around parading in north Belfast.

He also denied that his party was waging a cultural war against Protestants and unionists.

Mr Adams was speaking after three nights of violence in the Woodvale area of the city linked to an Orange Order parade there on 12 July.

He said dialogue was imperative and added: "There is no excuse, no excuse whatsoever for not talking."

The Sinn Féin president added: "What comes out of that is another matter but certainly Sinn Fein will come at this in a very positive way.

"The Orange Order should call off these protests, and the leaders of the unionist parties should make it very, very clear they want an end to the protests also."

'Tolerance'

Mr Adams said dialogue was needed between the Order and local residents and said talks between Sinn Féin and the Orange Order could facilitate that.

When asked about the Order's scepticism about dialogue delivering, citing the ongoing Garvaghy Road dispute in Portadown, County Armagh, he said: "There's no other way to go except through dialogue.

"I mean there has to be tolerance, there has to be respect. There is no space for the type of bigotry and sectarianism that have been evident over the last period."

Responding to comments by the Orange Order Grand Master on 12 July, he said: "There is no cultural war by republicans, by Sinn Féin against any section of our people. Not at all.

"Orange is one of our national colours. We do take a stand against sectarianism and bigotry.

"But we are very, very proud that those who founded Irish republicanism are mostly from the Protestant tradition."

He referred to "inflammatory language" adding, "all the wars are over".

"There's no rationale, there's no reason, there's no logic behind this sort of rhetoric.

Leadership

"The Orange are talking about a cultural war yet they are burning Irish national flags, we have an effigy of a much-loved priest being shown from a scaffold on a bonfire, we have a statue of Our Lady on a bonfire.

"Now does that reflect Orangeism? I don't think it does. I don't think that reflects the view of those thousands of Orangemen who march peacefully throughout the north."

He also said that Sinn Féin had invited the Orange Order grand chaplain, Rev Mervyn Gibson, for a meeting around the parading issue following Monday's Talkback programme on BBC Radio Ulster.

Meanwhile, Alliance Party leader, David Ford MLA, has called on the Orange Order to show leadership and help end the protests.

Mr Ford said: "The Orange Order must show some leadership and use any influence they have to prevent more trouble.

"So far some of the language used by individuals and groups on the Twelfth and in the run up to the Twelfth undoubtedly contributed to the situation which led to some people rioting.

"Now is the time for anybody who has any influence or any leadership to call off the protests and to ensure that no more young people get themselves a criminal record."