Belfast Telegraph

Political leaders issue joint warning against violence over Twelfth of July

By Claire Cromie

Northern Ireland's five party leaders have warned against street violence and illegal protests ahead of the Twelfth.

A joint statement was issued on Tuesday evening which stated they do not want anything to undermine the positive image of Northern Ireland seen during the G8 Summit.

It followed a briefing from PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott at Stormont Castle on his plans for policing parades over the Twelfth.

The leaders appealed for those with influence in their communities to work to ensure a peaceful parading season.

The statement read: “We welcome the briefing by the Chief Constable and note the steps that are being taken to police the events of the upcoming period and to keep people safe.  We would like to acknowledge the significant efforts made around the contentious parades that have taken place already this year by community leaders and police.

"We would highlight, in particular, the recent talks between representatives of the Orange Order and Crumlin Ardoyne Residents’ Association and the efforts of both organisations over recent years to ensure peace.  It is clear from the comments made that both sides regarded the engagement as positive and that there is an opportunity for further talks in the future.  Dialogue is clearly an essential ingredient of building good relations and mutual understanding.”

The party leaders stressed that violence is not acceptable in a democratic society nor is it inevitable. They called for the law to be respected and upheld at all times.  

“Whatever any of the parties may believe about the wisdom of any Parade Commission determinations, it is the lawful authority dealing with these matters and its decisions must be observed.  We appeal to community leaders and, indeed others, such as parents to seek a peaceful parading season to avoid an impact on our citizens, through damaged community relations or the life-restricting consequences of criminal records.”

“We are committed to building a positive image of Northern Ireland seen as a result of the G8 Summit, through the UK City of Culture and, hopefully, the forthcoming World Police and Fire Games and All Ireland Fleadh.  We do not want to see anything which undermines the good work already done by so many.”  

“For those who wish to see a different approach to decisions around parading we point you to the fact that the Executive has agreed to all-party talks commencing later this year. This will look at parading and other contentious issues. That is the forum through which we need to consider the future of parading decisions not through illegal protests or other unlawful action on the streets.”

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