DUP tell Ford of fears on parading
DUP representatives have met with Justice Minister David Ford over parading issues in north Belfast.
The issues the DUP outlined included ‘rioting’, ‘attempted murder of police officers’, and ‘disgraceful criminal behaviour’ at last year’s Ardoyne and Whiterock protests.
Sinn Fein have countered the DUP claim that ‘Republican provocation’ was responsible for last year’s violence.
North Belfast DUP MP Nigel Dodds said: “We took the opportunity to update the Justice Minister on the real and meaningful work that is taking place in places like Ardoyne and Whiterock to ensure a peaceful resolution to outstanding issues.
“I know that the loyal orders and the North and West Belfast Parades Forum have been working very hard to ensure this year's parading season passes off without incident, despite Republican provocation.”
Nelson McCausland MLA said: “Where people engage in reckless and violent criminal behaviour we expect them to be prosecuted.
“We shared with the Justice Minister our view that the police should not in any way be constrained, either through red-tape or overbearing human rights laws, as they go about the work of trying to keep communities safe.
“What we saw at Ardoyne last year was a blatant attempt by rioters to murder police officers and destroy property. There can be no question as to where the responsibility lies for the rioting we witnessed last July. There can be no question of those who engaged in such behaviour being rewarded for it or pandered to.”
Sinn Fein North Belfast councillor Gerard McCabe said: “Year round work goes on, a lot of effort is invested. However, while work is ongoing the real onus falls on the Orange Order to sit down and talk to residents. It is only through dialogue that this issue can be resolved.
“So far, the Orange Order is the only institution since the peace process to shirk its responsibility and move the situation forward.
“Residents have made it abundantly clear, time and again, that they’re willing to engage in dialogue — it’s high time the Orange Order accept this offer.”
A Sinn Fein spokesperson said they had no plans at this stage to meet the Justice Minister but in the run-up to the marches they would ‘meet with all relevant parties’.
Belfast Orange County Grand Master Tom Haire said: “I am determined that the rights of the loyal orders will be protected and that people will be free to celebrate their culture, free from violence or sectarian harassment.
“I will continue to work closely with the Justice Minister to find a way forward on these issues.
“I will also continue to press for the abolition of the Parades Commission, which was shamefully given a kiss-of-life by some who put political point-scoring ahead of the common good.”