Belfast Telegraph

Adams criticises unionist leaders

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has accused unionist political leaders of hypocrisy in dealing with illegal marches and attacks.

He claimed the main parties have failed to take a stand against those organising sectarian violence in Belfast and said their silence has been deafening.

Mr Adams said t he Short Strand has been under siege for much of the year, while residents of Carrick Hill and members of the Alliance party and Sinn Fein have been threatened or attacked.

"The silence of unionist leaders to all of this has been deafening," he said at an annual commemoration in the St James' area of west Belfast.

"No condemnation, no rejection of the violence and the threats.

"These are the same parties that used to lecture republicans about the 'rule of law' and who demanded that before they would reach agreements Sinn Fein had to sign up to policing.

"These are the 'law and order' politicians. Such hypocrisy. Such double standards."

Northern Ireland has been dogged by sporadic street violence since last December.

During the winter months, loyalist paramilitaries were blamed for orchestrating riots in north and east Belfast over the decision limiting the flying of the Union flag over Belfast City Hall.

In August republicans were criticised for staging an IRA commemoration parade in Castlederg, the Co Tyrone town that suffered significantly during the Troubles.

And t he Orange Order has staged a protest in north Belfast since they were stopped from marching past Ardoyne while returning from their annual Twelfth of July demonstrations.

A senior Orangeman warned protests over a contentious Orange Order parade could include "civil disobedience".

Senior DUP member Arlene Foster defended the right of people to protest on any issue, but said they must be peaceful and warned e veryone must remain within the law of the land when they engage in protest.

"Some people, during the flags protest, went out to protest and things went further than they should have gone and therefore those young people now have a criminal conviction," t he enterprise minister told the BBC.

"I do not want to see young people, whether in Belfast or anywhere else in Northern Ireland, blighted with a criminal conviction for something that they will regret for the rest of their lives."

However Sinn Fein called for leadership.

Mr Adams said when so-called dissidents killed PSNI officers and British soldiers Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness showed leadership by standing shoulder to shoulder with First Minister Peter Robinson and the Chief Constable to condemn those actions in assertive, clear and robust language.

"That's what unionism needs," he added.

"Positive leadership to build the process, to take a stand against illegal marches, sectarianism and violence and the provocative actions of the Orange Order in Belfast.

"The lack of real leadership by unionist leaders has had a negative effect on public opinion and confidence in the power sharing institutions is being undermined."

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