Tuesday 21 October 2014

Robinson pledge over parades issue

Published 15/10/2012 | 16:28

Peter Robinson said he was determined to find a way to break the cycle of violence which explodes every marching season

Resolving the "toxic" issue of parading is a priority for Stormont, Northern Ireland's First Minister has insisted.

During Assembly question time Peter Robinson said that, before the end of this year, he was determined to find a way to break the cycle of violence which explodes every marching season.

The DUP leader said: "The right to assembly, the right to express cultural identity, the right to protest and the rights of those living in close proximity to parades are at the heart of proposals agreed at Hillsborough on parades and protests. The principles of mutual respect and tolerance are key to resolving the issue of disputed parades and counter parades.

"The Deputy First Minister and I have met with various participants of both sides of the argument and we remain committed to facilitating discussions in any way that is helpful.

"We have indicated to Executive colleagues our determination to agree a process on taking this complex issue forward before the year ends."

In July, 20 police officers were injured when disturbances broke out after a contentious Orange Order parade passed a north Belfast flashpoint.

Police were pelted with petrol bombs, fireworks and other missiles during the rioting in Ardoyne. Ten gunshots were also fired at police lines from a semi-automatic rifle in the Brompton Park area.

In August, 47 PSNI officers were hurt when loyalists opposed to a republican parade went on the rampage in the Carlisle Circus area.

Just weeks later, a further seven police officers were attacked when trouble flared outside St Patrick's Catholic Church on Belfast's Donegall Street during a Royal Black Preceptory parade.

Mr Robinson added: "This is a very serious issue. We all are fully aware of it when we get round to June and July. It is now that we need to deal with this issue and we are determined to try and help get the processes under way before the end of the year. I hope everybody will come forward in a constructive manner to attempt to try and resolve these issues which are toxic within our society."

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