Crowe calls for cross community response to sectarian violence in Belfast
In the Dáil today, Dublin South West TD, Seán Crowe, highlighted the need for an all-party and cross community response to the recent flags protests in the North and the violence which has accompanied them.
Crowe, who is also a member of the Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement, raised the subject by entering it under topical issues.
Deputy Crowe said:
“Belfast is a changing and shared city, and it is no longer dominated by unionism. The issue of flags and symbols at Belfast City Hall is a sensitive one, but this doesn’t mean it can or should be ignored.
“Belfast City Hall is a shared workplace and under equality legislation it must provide a good and harmonious working environment. Employees and those who use the City Hall, must have their cultural and political identities respected, and not be made feel isolated or marginalised due to their identities.
“The vast majority of the loyalist protests taking place are illegal and they are being orchestrated by the UVF and BNP figures. In the last week these protests have attacked interface areas. Once again we have seen the Short Strand community targeted by fascists and bigots, with sectarian attacks led by the UVF and BNP.
“Unionists talking amongst themselves will not solve this issue and create mutual respect for people’s national identity and culture. That can only come when inclusive talks, with representatives from the whole community, take place. There needs to be an open discussion on how people’s national identity can be respected and valued.
“Equality and mutual respect needs to be at the core of any move forward on identity and symbols. There can be no return to one party and unequal rule.
“The loyalist rioting needs to stop and there needs to be collective action from across society to push ahead with peace and reconciliation work throughout the North”