Finlay’s parade remarks are unfair, insists McCausland
Politicians in north Belfast are working hard to ensure there is a peaceful parade season, a local MLA has said.
The DUP’s Nelson McCausland MLA was speaking after Assistant Chief Constable Alistair Finlay last week said politicians were not doing enough to ease community tensions in the run-up to this summer's marching season.
Mr McCausland said: “I was deeply disappointed by ACC Finlay’s statement, which was ill-informed and ill-considered.
“My colleagues and I engage on these issues with the Loyal Orders, the North and West Belfast Parades Forum, the police, the Parades Commission and other stakeholders.
“We are not detached from the issues and we work alongside the community in doing all we can to ensure that there is a peaceful and quiet summer.
“If Mr Finlay has a message to relay to politicians he can do that most effectively by lifting the telephone or arranging a meeting.
“As an elected representative I face up to my responsibility and to suggest otherwise is unfair, unfounded and unfortunate.
“I would suggest that Mr Finlay recall the meetings we have had with him personally on these matters and I would also suggest that he speaks to his officers in north Belfast. It is always good to find out the facts before making a statement.
“We have been working to resolve problems around parades and protests for many years, long before ACC Finlay arrived in Northern Ireland, and we continue to do so.”
However, SDLP North Belfast MLA Alban Maginness said the PSNI have a perfectly reasonable expectation that politicians should work together to prevent trouble around loyalist marches.
He said: “This is not about individual politicians getting out to stop rioters on their own side of the sectarian division, it is about working together politically across that division to get at the deeply rooted causes of sectarian trouble.
“Interface violence is essentially a political problem of historic proportions that needs to be addressed by contemporary politicians. It is unreasonable to ask the PSNI to bear the burden of political failure alone.
“A good policing strategy must be based on a shared future strategy and that can only come from the top, from the parties that control the Executive.”