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Peace process should not be put at risk over parades - Adams

The Sinn Féin leader was speaking in the wake of yesterday’s negotiation walk-out by Unionist parties.

Gerry Adams
Gerry Adams
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

GERRY ADAMS HAS called on Northern Ireland’s first minister Peter Robinson to clarify his statement that the Stormont institutions have been put at risk following a collapse in political discussions.

Yesterday, five Unionist parties walked out of talks after a decision to block the Orange Order from marching down the Crumlin Road in North Belfast on 12 July.

The Northern Ireland Parades Commission decided that the parade could march along the road on the outward leg of the parade but not return down it later that evening.

The Sinn Féin leader called on Robsinon to reflect on his comments and clarify what he meant.

His remark that the institutions are under threat – he should explain that, but I would take it as a serious statement by him …
It isn’t worth putting the institutions under threat because of [a parade].

Adams said that he respected the Orange Order’s right to march and noted that the number of their parades has “almost doubled” in recent years.

Any notion that there’s an attack on Orange culture is absolutely incorrect.

He said that least year’s talks on contentious issues such as marching and flags was an opportunity “wasted because Unionism wasn’t in the mood when Richard Haass and Meghan O’Sullivan were here”.

Adams called for both the Irish and British governments to “make it very clear that they are going to acquiesce to what was obviously a planned walkout by Unionism”.

The people need champions for progress in the two governments.

He said that the issue needed to be taken seriously but urged for calm on the ground.

“We should not minimise the potential but neither should we exaggerate the fact that this is localised.

There will be more people at an All-Ireland final than there will be engaged in this contentious behaviour.

“The pulse of grassroots Unionism wants peace, wants calm, tolerance and respect.”

Labour

Adams said that he did not believe that the election of a new Labour leader – which is taking place today – would improve the party’s popularity, saying it needed a change of policy.

“Whoever the leader is, one of them is a very senior minister who voted for all of these cuts and the other one is a junior minister who presided over the medical cards debacle. We wish them well but we live in the real world.

I thought it was interesting that the first part of the hustings were all about Sinn Féin and the second part of the hustings were all about trying to get Eamon Gilmore a job. None of those two issues related to the real crisis of citizens out there.”

And, for the day that’s in it, Adams said that the organisers behind the Garth Brooks concerts at Croke Park “should find some way of honouring the people who bought tickets and the contract they have with those people”.

Read: Unionist parties all walk out of Stormont talks in protest over parade block

Read: Richard Haass says some in Northern Ireland are being ‘unrealistic in the extreme’

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Órla Ryan

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