"The West Armagh Community Festival has been in operation for over 20 years and in that time has been officially opened by Mayors and Lord Mayors from ALL parties within Armagh City and District Council (ACDC). The events that appear to be causing upset to members of the unionist parties have been part and parcel of the Festival since its early days, so why are unionist politicians up in arms now, considering that they participated in its official opening over the years and witnessed some of the events in question.
"Indeed, we have the current Lord Mayor officiating at our sponsored run/walk tomorrow night in the Palace Grounds. The monies raised at this will benefit two local charities, Lisanally Special School and Armagh Breast Cancer Support Group.
"The Festival was deliberately timed to coincide with what used to be a very volatile time of year, particularly within the nationalist community. The Festival organisers used the Festival to redivert energies. By and large this has been a great success insofar that here in Armagh the anniversary of Internment now passes off without any unrest and anti-social behaviour as had been the norm.
"The events in the Festival are named after people who are significant to the community in Armagh, who died either as part of the conflict or had respected standing within the community. There are over 10 events named after local people, not all who died violently.
"We are currently involved in a very busy Festival with a full schedule of multi-cultural events and cross community activities geared to everyone in the community. We hope this statement will suffice. If there are any further queries we will gladly respond to them after the Festival is completed."