East Belfast Alliance Assembly Member, Councillor Naomi Long, has accused unionist and republican politicians of ‘sectarian cherry-picking’ when it comes to condemning recent violence and intimidation, describing their hypocrisy as nauseating. She has demanded an end to the double standards and unequivocal support for the rule of law on all sides.
Naomi Long said, “Over the last few days we have seen local politicians, both unionist and republican, yet again taking on the mantle of being apologists for violence which emanates within their community.
“When confronted with the loyalist violence of the weekend, unionist politicians seem to have ‘Ruth Patterson syndrome’, finding it difficult to utter the kind of robust and forthright condemnations of violence which trip off the tongue when republicans are to blame. The muted condemnation from many unionist politicians in the last few days has been quickly followed by a pathetic attempt at explanation or justification of the behaviour.
“Where were these same bleeding-heart unionists when rioting broke out at Ardoyne? Were they in front of cameras, expressing their concerns about deprivation in Nationalist areas? No. They were, quite rightly, condemning without equivocation acts of violence which can never be justified or excused. Their failure to take the same unequivocal line with loyalists over the disgraceful scenes of recent days will be to their lasting shame.
“On the republican side, we saw Sinn Fein representatives rush to condemn the appalling sectarian attack on a young man at the Albert Bridge last weekend, but are strangely silent over the equally appalling beating of another man in the Short Strand area this week by republicans. Local Sinn Fein spokespeople, who appear never to be short of a comment when it comes to apportioning blame for interface trouble on loyalists, on this matter and on the continuing intimidation of Robert McCartney’s family by republicans in the area, refuse to comment.
“This hypocrisy is nauseating. It is time that all politicians condemned violence unequivocally, regardless of where it emanates, and committed themselves to upholding the rule of law and to the use of solely peaceful and democratic means. The time for sectarian cherry-picking is at an end.”