Belfast Telegraph

Parade violence 'harms job efforts'

Further parade-related violence in Northern Ireland will only damage efforts to attract jobs and investment to the region, the Secretary of State has warned.

Theresa Villiers stressed the wider consequences of disorder amid fears of another outbreak of unrest in Belfast on Saturday over a continuing ban on a disputed Orange Order march in the north of the city.

There were five successive nights of violence after Orangemen were prevented from parading past the nationalist Ardoyne area at the end of traditional Twelfth of July Orange Order commemorations last Friday.

More than 70 police officers have been injured in the clashes with 75 people arrested to date.

Much of the trouble has centred on the loyalist Woodvale Road area near the Ardoyne. It is there where the Orangemen and their supporters have been prevented by police from continuing forward on their parade.

Concerns that trouble could return to the streets this weekend intensified when the Parades Commission adjudication body blocked a fresh application by north Belfast Orangemen to parade along the contentious route on Saturday afternoon. The Orangemen will again attempt to parade up to the police lines.

"I understand that many people strongly disagree with recent Parades Commission determinations," Mrs Villiers said. "But however they feel, there can be no justification for lawless behaviour.

"People who break the law should be in no doubt that there will be arrests and prosecutions. And those who are convicted risk prison.

"It also has a serious impact on the reputation of Northern Ireland as we try and compete in the global race for investment and jobs.

"The violent protests must stop. I once again call on all those with influence, including the Orange Order, community leaders and politicians, to help defuse tensions and ensure this weekend is peaceful."

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