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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 25 Jul 1996

Vol. 468 No. 4

Written Answers. - Northern Ireland Marches.

Declan Bree


61 Mr. Bree asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs the steps, if any, he and the Government is taking to ensure that an early decision is taken by the British authorities to have the proposed Apprentice Boys' Parade in Derry re-routed and, in particular, to ensure that the parade does not proceed along the west wall of the city which overlooks the Nationalist Bogside; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the Apprentice Boys have refused to negotiate with representatives of the Nationalist community in Derry; if his attention has been further drawn to the strong views and objections of the Nationalist community with regard to the proposed route of the parade; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16103/96]

At the special Anglo-Irish Intergovernmental Conference meeting held at the request of the Irish Government on 18 July 1996, I made clear to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Sir Patrick Mayhew MP, that it was vital that forthcoming parades be handled in such a way as to avoid a repetition of the confrontation at Drumcree and the serious adverse effect that events there had on relations between the two communities and confidence in the rule of law.

Clearly, the best resolution of any disputed parade is an agreement at local level which respects both the right to march and the rights and sensitivities of local residents. To reach such agreement, it is essential that all the parties involved discuss the matter directly with a view to a peaceful and agreed resolution. I understand that efforts are currently underway to resolve the difference between local residents in the Bogside and the Apprentice Boys. I welcome the recent meeting between the leader of the SDLP, Mr. John Hume, and representatives of the Apprentice Boys. I hope that the continuing efforts at dialogue will be broadened to include direct contacts between the Apprentice Boys and representatives of the residents. The issues at stake are far too serious to omit such a vital and sensible move.

I would reiterate the call made by both Governments after the Intergovernmental Conference on 22 May 1996, which reviewed the prospects for this year's marching season, on all those involved in the planning of parades to exercise compromise and balance in the interests of the community as a whole. I cannot overstate the importance of genuine dialogue in Derry and in other areas where contentious parades are planned.