Adams urges Tánaiste to Visit East Belfast
Speaking in the Dáil this morning the Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD welcomed the visit tomorrow by the Tánaiste, Eamon Gilmore to the north to meet with the First and Deputy First Ministers on the violence and illegal protests and the Tánaiste’s acknowledgement that the attacks on the Short Strand were “premeditated.”
The Sinn Féin leader said that these events underpin the “need for constant and consistent support for the peace and political processes.”
Teachta Adams said the protests do not represent the vast majority of citizens in Belfast who want a shared city and he identified some of those behind the protests; including the British National Party and the UVF who are “engaged in whipping up these tensions and fears.”
He pressed the Tánaiste to take the opportunity presented by his visit to East Belfast tomorrow and “meet with residents there, including the Short Strand and the loyalist areas adjacent to it.”
The Sinn Féin leader said:
“The Good Friday Agreement states that symbols and emblems should be used in a manner which promotes mutual respect rather than division.
“This recognises the reality that there are two flags which the vast majority of people in the six counties give their allegiance to: the Union flag and the Irish tricolour.
“For this reason there are some councils which fly no flag, while at Stormont and in other Councils the Union flag flies on designated days only.
“Belfast City Council took legal advice on this issue. It also received advice from the Equality Commission and there was an equality impact assessment.
“The decision in December was in keeping with these and ironically in keeping with protocols in Britain. It was a democratic decision and was entirely proper and appropriate. Democratic and peaceful opposition to it would also be proper.
“The violent sectarian reaction is entirely wrong and the illegal protests need to be brought to an end before someone is killed.
“The attacks on the Short Strand Community are disgraceful and should stop. I visited that nationalist enclave on Sunday. It is an area under siege. It has endured 16 illegal loyalist marches in recent weeks and countless sectarian interface protests.
“Since the recent violence began the Deputy First Minister has been endeavouring to bring about all party opposition to violence and the protests. He continues to do so.
“When the two British soldiers were killed in 2009 and the two PSNI officers were killed, Martin McGuinness stood shoulder to shoulder with Peter Robinson and led a robust all-party and cross community response.
“There was no equivocation. The same all party approach is required today. We need all party dialogue and cross party response to bring the violence to an end.”