Sinn Féin deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness today said that everyone involved in organising and taking part in parades had to abide by the determinations of the Parade Commission. He said comments by the Orange Order Chaplain Rev Mervyn Gibson today encouraging the breaching of these determinations were ‘unacceptable and wreckless’.
Mr McGuinness said:
“It was very obvious that the Loyal Orders and the bands involved decided in a very calculated way to breach the Parades Commission determination outside St. Patrick’s Church. This was completely unacceptable and has led directly to a considerable heightening of tensions in North Belfast.
“The decision by the Orange Order Chaplain Mervyn Gibson today to encourage the further breaching of Parades Commission determinations going forward is unacceptable and wreckless. It is a complete abdication of leadership. Likewise the contributions made by Nelson McCausland.
“We have seen two nights of rioting and the injuring of over 60 police officers in Carlise Circus and elderly residents of a nursing home hemmed in and terrified by the actions of loyalist rioters. This needs to end and end now.
“Going forward the Loyal Orders need to step up to the mark. They can no longer sit on the sideline summer after summer while the political and peace process is held to ransom over a handful of contentious parades. It is no good to hint about entering dialogue, the time has come for the Loyal Order leaderships to act and get a firm grip over their parades and the knock on effects of them on ordinary people’s lives.
“That means in practical terms showing respect to residents, the Parades Commission, non unionist political parties and the rule of law. The Loyal Orders need to begin a meaningful process of dialogue to sort out once and for all the few remaining contentious parades which blight the summer months. That includes meetings with residents, church leaders and political parties including Sinn Féin.”