Belfast Telegraph

Mike Nesbitt: Parading could be sorted in days

UUP Leader Mike Nesbitt
UUP Leader Mike Nesbitt

By Liam Clarke

UUP leader Mike Nesbitt has predicted that agreement on parading "can be reached in days rather than weeks" if is dealt with individually in talks between party leaders.

"I would go into talks on parades and protests in a heartbeat," Mr Nesbitt said.

He called on the loyal orders to "collectively publish a voluntary code of conduct" setting out "minimum standards of behaviour" for their members, bands and spectators at loyal order parades.

Mr Nesbitt was setting out his stall following an article by Prime Minister David Cameron in yesterday's Belfast Telegraph.

Mr Cameron had called for intensive dialogue on issues which talks chaired by former American diplomat Dr Richard Hass had failed to resolve late last year.

These included flag flying, parading and the past.

After January, leaders of the five Executive parties continued to discuss the issues but Mr Nesbitt withdrew, accusing Sinn Fein of bad faith.

Now he says he could return if the parading issue is dealt with first. He would look at the issue of the past after he had seen the outcome of investigations into letters of comfort sent to on-the-run IRA suspects (OTRs) by the Northern Ireland Office.

An inquiry by Lady Justice Hallett is due to report by the end of this month.

"The pressing issue is parades and protests and it also happens to be the one where I believe we are closest to agreement," Mr Nesbitt said, adding: "I think we could get agreement in days rather than weeks."

He went on: "That would give the country a big lift coming into the summer. It would also re-establish some community confidence in Stormont and would give us a bit of momentum to pick up and press on into the other two issues later on."

He called on parading bodies to spell out their position quickly.

He said: "I would like the loyal orders collectively to publish a voluntary code of conduct and I have already spoken to them about this."

He added: "The standard must be very simply that you behave in a lawful manner and are respectful to all."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph