Belfast Telegraph

Monday 1 September 2014

Parades fiasco must be avoided in 2013: Nigel Dodds

North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds has said the key to avoiding another tense parading season is the demise of the Parades Commission.

Speaking at the DUP’s annual conference, the senior party figure said Northern Ireland must never have another summer like this year’s.

He was referring to a number of fraught parades which saw community tensions spill over in to trouble.

One particular hotspot this year has been St Patrick’s Church on Belfast’s Donegall Street which saw violence erupt after strict Parades Commission rulings were breached by a number of bands taking part.

The Parades Commission placed restrictions on the August 25 march following events on the Twelfth, when a loyalist band was blamed for playing a sectarian song outside the church.

However, the band defied the commission's determination, and other bands, which were restricted to playing a single drum beat, also breached the ruling.

Violence which broke out led to the injury of seven police officers.

Mr Dodds said the recipe for avoidance of a repeat of ugly scenes broadcast across the world is the demise of the Parades Commission.

“The work for change starts now. That change starts with finding an alternative to the chaotic mess created by the Parades Commission,” he said.

He also said Sinn Fein needs to make up its mind if it wants to be part of the new future in Northern Ireland.

“Or do they want to be simply the voice of opposition and protest? Sinn Fein need to decide if they are going to stop looking over one shoulder at the SDLP and over the other shoulder at dissidents and start to change their focus and look ahead.”

On a more positive note, Mr Dodds said no problem is insurmountable.

“We need to stop and question the merits of continually apportioning blame.

“Yes, working with parties diametrically opposed to us is not easy, but that does not mean that we should not work to deliver what is self evidently in the best interests of everyone in this society,” he said.

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