Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 10 July 2014

Why was the Castlederg stand-off allowed to fester?

The big question about the Castlederg imbroglio is why it seems to have caught politicians unawares. Or, if they were aware, why they allowed it to drift into confrontation.

Barry McElduff of Sinn Fein is on the committee which organises the republican march.

And there are local unionist MLAs, like Ross Hussey of the UUP and Thomas Buchanan of the DUP, who know the feeling on the ground and have spoken eloquently on the issue.

They must have warned their parties of the looming difficulties; others certainly voiced concerns. For instance, Vernon Coaker (right), the shadow secretary of state, was raising the possibility of problems months ago.

As far back as April 23, Mr Coaker met Derg Valley Victims the group opposing Sunday's republican parade, and also a group working to resolve issues like parading and flags.

"Vernon was struck by the levels of division and tension in Castlederg," an aide said. "He subsequently spoke about it to both the Northern Ireland Office and the Office of the First and deputy First Minister.

"He didn't do it in an official, or formal, way, or to warn them. It was more to make them aware of his concerns."

It is hard to understand why this whole issue was allowed to go to meltdown.

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