Alliance Belfast City Councillor, Tom Ekin, has rejected the Orange Order’s claims that recent street violence was an expression of desperation, and that no one listens to the wishes of local residents. Councillor Ekin pointed out that during his term of office as Belfast Lord Mayor, he worked hard to facilitate a more peaceful parade season. However, the violence of last weekend has clearly undermined any progress made in recent months.
Tom Ekin said, “The Orange Order, among others, are stating that no one listens to concerns of Protestants. This simply isn’t true. And even if it were, it does not provide an excuse for the kind of rioting and violence that we have witnessed in recent days.
“During my time as Lord Mayor, I grasped the nettle of difficult and politically contentious parades and celebrations, both St Patrick’s Day and the Twelfth of July, and worked hard to try and facilitate those progressive elements who wished to see a calmer and more peaceful context created. In doing so, I listened to and worked with members of the Orange Order, amongst others. I am hugely disappointed that rather than seizing the opportunity to make progress, the Orange Order appears to be intent on going back to the same old routines of standoff, confrontation, and ultimately, violence.
“I remain open to all those in society who are prepared to work constructively and within the law, to bring peace and stability in all of our neighbourhoods.
“Open violence in our streets tarnishes our image, at home and abroad, and is the opposite of the positive vision that I and the Alliance Party have of prosperity and progress, based on peace.”