The Chairman of Belfast City Council’s Good Relations Working Group has welcomed today’s initial moves by the council to combat sectarian violence and murder.
Speaking after this afternoon’s meeting at City Hall, Alliance councillor Tom Ekin said the Good Relations Group will play an important role in bringing people together to look at ways to reduce tensions that lead to sectarian violence.
Cllr Ekin said: “I hope to have discussions with the various parties on how we go forward from here. This is the first step on a long journey of trust-building. Miracles won’t happen overnight, but I believe that together we can change things for the better in the long term.”
“As far as I can see, the Government and the Secretary of State have done little to combat sectarianism, so it is time Belfast Council took greater responsibility and grasped the initiative.”
“In order to make progress the group will use the expertise of people on the ground who are trying to achieve more permanent solutions. In the past, initiatives have broken down, leaving mistrust in their wake, so I hope this new approach will provide a more enduring structure.”
“If we show real leadership, there is a very good chance we can break the current cycle of violence, blame and counter-accusation. That will require co-operation, more hard work and a lot less grandstanding.”