Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Editor's Viewpoint: Time for cool heads and for calm words

This newspaper rightly took issue with unionist politicians over the recent Royal Black Preceptory demonstration in Belfast which resulted in serious violence when bands broke a Parades Commission ruling not to play outside St Patrick's Catholic church.

The politicians' comments in the run up to the march seemed to support demonstrators' opposition to the ruling.

In the same spirit we urge nationalist politicians to be temperate in their comments in advance of the Ulster Covenant parade in the same area.

The Parades Commission has made what is a fair ruling on the behaviour of bands and the numbers of demonstrators that the local residents' committee can have in the area on Saturday.

What is not needed at this juncture are any comments which would inflame the situation or give the green light to those who might be intent on creating trouble.

That, of course, applies right across the board. Rhetoric should be toned down to keep the atmosphere as tension-free as possible.

Nationalist politicians have decried the fact that the Orange Order has declined to engage in dialogue with the Carrick Hill residents, but this is simply part of the ritual of such events.

Quite rightly they have not condemned the Parades Commission ruling, nor set up a confrontation with that body.

They know that for all the talk about reforming or replacing the Commission, any subsequent body would have to arrive at essentially the same decisions.

Over the next two days politicians and all others with influence on either side of this debate should conduct themselves in as dignified manner as possible. That includes residents, march organisers, bandsmen, the Orange Order and politicians of all hues. Saturday's demonstration will be a massive affair and there is always the potential for disorder when thousands of people take to the streets.

Those who might engage in violence should not be given any excuse to do so.

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