THE Lord Mayor of Belfast has said that he was “saddened and disappointed” by the violence surrounding a parade in Ardoyne, North Belfast last night.
Councillor Tom Ekin stated:
“Sadly, last night’s violence has marred what could have been the most peaceful summer in years. I am disappointed that things deteriorated so far, but rather than point the finger at each other, those involved in this dispute should engage in September to ensure that an agreement is in place long before the next Twelfth.
“What needs to be developed is a strategy, because we seem to be stumbling from one dispute to another each year, whether it is over parades, bonfires or protests. If the loyal orders and the nationalist residents’ groups were prepared to enter into dialogue, it would mean that no-one would have to be disappointed by a Parades Commission decision in future and that false expectations, rumours and fears could be dealt with in advance.
“It is time for the two sides in this situation to take responsibility, instead of using others as scapegoats for their inability to resolve their own differences. There is a year to try and sort these disputes out, and if the will is there, we can move away from the negative images of violence that are seen around the world every July.”