Belfast Telegraph

Marching season: George Hamilton pleads for a resolution on parading

By David Young

Northern Ireland's police chief has called for intensified efforts to find a lasting solution to summer parading disputes.

George Hamilton urged politicians, civic leaders and communities to do "all in their power" to find a way to deal with contentious marches.

As the marching season gets into full swing, the Chief Constable said political efforts to find a new way to adjudicate on disputed parades have so far come to nothing.

The most volatile dispute focuses on the Ardoyne/Woodvale community interface in north Belfast, where rioting has erupted in recent years.

The Parades Commission has prevented Orangemen from parading past Ardoyne for the last two years. There was no trouble last summer when police halted the parade at Twaddell Avenue, but in 2013 loyalists rioted for a number of nights.

In previous years, republicans have done the same when the Parades Commission permitted the march along the Crumlin Road.

Yesterday, Mr Hamilton told the Policing Board that leadership was necessary to resolve tensions.

"Looking towards the future, we need politicians, civic leadership and communities to do all in their power to resolve the parading issue," he said.

"The cost of the current stalemate is more than financial. At Ardoyne we have seen how violent dissident republicans have sought to exploit the ongoing protest situation for their own ends by launching five attacks on police over the last year.

"This is not a situation our society should continue to tolerate. Efforts must continue to resolve this issue."

The PSNI boss said he knew police had a key role to play in ensuring a peaceful parading season.

"We know that community confidence is impacted by how we conduct our policing operations," he said. "We know that we do not always get it right, but we are listening to communities and where possible we adapt our policing approach and our language.

"2014 was one of the most peaceful marching seasons for several years, made possible by responsible leadership from a range of people in a position to bring positive influence.

"The last 14 months have demonstrated that protest activity can be both peaceful and lawful. It is important, however, that participants and protesters understand and act according to all aspects of the law."

Belfast Telegraph


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