Stewart Dickson MLA said: “While I welcome Mr Nesbitt’s belated comments, I have to ask why it has taken him so long to do so. After attacks on the Alliance Party, the injured police officers, death threats against different politicians and the millions lost by our businesses, why has it taken him nearly a year to speak out against flag protests? He is also forgetting his Party’s role in starting the protests with the 40,000 leaflets that inflamed tensions ahead of last year’s vote.
“While I do acknowledge that he has previously spoken of the negative consequences of flag protests, those comments rang hollow by the continued presence of UUP politicians, including Mr Nesbitt himself, at different protests. I hope that Mr Nesbitt’s latest comments will actually be adhered to by his Party.
“I would again reiterate the Alliance Party’s call that there should not be any more flag protests or parades. As we enter the Christmas shopping period, we do not want to face the prospect of more businesses being forced to close if we see a repeat of last December’s violence and disruption.”