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Political and civic unionism must be more proactive on loyalist violence - Maskey

8 September, 2005

Sinn Féin MLA for South Belfast Alex Maskey has today called upon political leaders within political and civic unionism to be 'less reactive and more proactive' around the issue of loyalist attacks against vulnerable nationalist communities.

Speaking today Mr Maskey said:

"There is a responsibility on all of us within political and civic society to combat inequality and discrimination in all of its forms. However, the more recent attacks upon the nationalist community have once again exposed the inherent weaknesses within unionism throughout the years - that it is ambivalent, half-hearted and one sided when it comes to condemnation.

"Over these past days and weeks the response from both political and civic unionism to the ongoing loyalist campaign has been muted to say the least. Whilst we have seen some church leaders come out an openly condemn attacks upon nationalists, others have buried their heads in the sand and have pretended that all around them is tranquil.

"I want to wholeheartedly welcome those people who have stepped forward. People like Presbyterian Moderator Harry Uprichard visited two Ballymena schools after they were attacked, albeit after being criticized for his lack of response to the issue. Perhaps wiser council is beginning to prevail in some cases. But for every one person who has stepped up to the plate, there are many others around them who remain silent.

"I want to take this opportunity to urge all of those in positions of influence, to use that influence to help bring an end to the attacks and intimidation which we have witnessed on an almost daily basis. The time for occasional condemnation has long since passed. What is required is for community leaders to be proactive rather than reactive, and begin a programme of outreach and meaningful engagement and dialogue with those from other political traditions. " ENDS

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