Statement by David Andrews,T.D., Minister for Foreign Affairs Apprentice Boys' Parades
The Government has consistently taken the view that disagreements about parades should be resolved through local accommodation emerging from sustained and genuine dialogue, without pre-conditions and based on mutual respect. It is a source of regret and concern that local agreement has not been reached, in particular regarding the main parade in Derry and the Lower Ormeau Road feeder parade.
The Government fully understands the deeply-rooted concerns and anxieties of residents past whose homes unwelcome parades are routed. They, as everybody else, can expect to to live peacefully and free from disruption. Even at this late stage we urge all of those involved seriously to consider all constructive proposals which could lead to an harmonious resolution of the current difficulties.
Failing local agreement we urge that all sides conduct themselves calmly, with dignity, and within the law. We also expect the security forces to fulfil their responsibilities in a restrained and sensitive manner. This year's marching season has so far been less scarred by violence and confrontation than those of previous years and it is important, not least in terms of the wider political situation, that this improvement be maintained.
The Government is monitoring the situation carefully and continuously and is in close touch both with residents' groups and, through the Anglo-Irish Secretariat, with the British authorities at a high level. The aim is to seek a solution which is satisfactory to all concerned.
In a longer-term perspective, the Government will continue to make clear its view that all proposed parades should in the first instance be resolved through dialogue and accommodation at local level. Meaningful dialogue is essential but where it fails to achieve local accommodation each proposed parade must as in the past be considered thoroughly by the Parades Commission taking into account all the criteria set out in legislation. We expect that all these criteria , including disruption to the life of the community and the impact of the parade on relationships within the community, will be fully and comprehensively applied. in each case.
All of us must constantly keep in mind that the real and long-term interests of all of the people of Northern Ireland will be best served through the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.