Parades Commission’s rulings must be upheld, says Long

Alliance MP Naomi Long has said the rulings of the Parades Commission must be respected and upheld when it comes to contentious marches here.

Mrs Long was speaking in the House of Commons today (Tuesday) following a statement by Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers on the recent disorder which has affected her constituency of East Belfast, as well as the north of the city. Violence flared after the Commission’s decision to restrict an Orange Order march in North Belfast.

She said that violent scenes, which saw police attacked with blast bombs, petrol bombs and golf balls among other items, were both challenges to the rule of law and damaging to Northern Ireland’s international reputation.

“I condemn all of the violence of the last few days, whether by those who sought to breach the determination or those who attacked lawful parades. Throughout this violence, I have been deeply concerned for my constituents, both on the Newtownards Road and in Short Strand, whose lives are put at risk and who are terrified in their homes, whilst outside their neighbourhoods are turned into war zones.

“I am also concerned for the safety of police, who seek to protect that same public and also uphold the law in the most difficult of circumstances.

“Until such times as an alternative to the Parades Commission is agreed by all parties in Northern Ireland, the body is and will remain the lawful authority in such matters. Therefore, its rulings must be upheld, no ifs and no buts, if law and order is not to be completely undermined.

“I am pleased the Secretary of State agreed with my assessment. I hope that calm will be restored and that we will see the leadership required on all sides to bring violence and the wider conflict over parading to an end.”


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