Alliance Party Leader, David Ford MLA, has expressed his disbelief in the Orange Order’s denial of any involvement in the violence of the past weekend. He has also said that the Order’s calling the Police Service ‘arrogant’ was patently insulting to those officer who literally put their lives on the line, to protect a local community terrified by the violence on the streets. Furthermore, Mr Ford has rejected the Order’s proposal to resolve the matter internally, and has called for the organisation to co-operate fully with the police service’s investigation of the rioting.
David Ford said, “For the Orange Order to claim no involvement in last weekend’s riots beggars belief. The video evidence is clear to anyone – men in sashes were involved in lobbing missiles at the police, threatening them with swords and other weapons, and were also witnessed removing their sashes before becoming further embroiled in the violence. The Orange Order cannot wash its hands of responsibility for its members’ behaviour.
“Not only were members of the Orange Order involved in the riots, the Orange Order itself must bear substantial responsibility for calling demonstrators out into the streets, in full knowledge that loyalist paramilitaries were preparing for trouble.
“For Grand Master Robert Saulters to call the police arrogant is thus patently insulting. To say that the police were aggressive is also astonishingly foolish. Any police service in the world, coming under live fire, would and should respond in a suitably robust manner, to protect not just their own officers, but the wider community. To try to disperse blame onto the police for the violent scenes is despicable.
“The Alliance Party will not accept the Orange Order’s proposition to resolve this through ‘internal discipline’. Internal discipline can be no replacement for justice. Justice will only be had by full co-operation with the police. ‘Internal discipline’ wasn’t acceptable when the IRA offered it to the McCartney family, and it is not acceptable from the Orange Order now.
“The only acceptable solution is co-operation with the police service. Anything less is a demonstration of contempt for the rule of law, something which the Orange Order claims to uphold.”