17 September 2005

BreakingNews.ie: Unionists accused over loyalist violence


17/09/2005 - 13:41:33

Unionist political leaders were accused today of “almost soliciting” the loyalist violence which erupted in Northern Ireland a week ago.

The rhetoric used the Rev Ian Paisley and Sir Reg Empey ahead of last Saturday’s contentious Orange Parade in Belfast was heavily condemned by SDLP leader Mark Durkan.

And he said it appeared the loyalist paramilitary tail was now almost wagging the unionist dog.

Hitting out at the Democratic Unionist and Ulster Unionist party leaders, Mr Durkan said: “Effectively the signal they sent to people was ‘do your worst and we won’t blame you, do your worst and we will blame the police.

“Do your worst and we will blame the Parades Commission and we will blame the Secretary of State’.

“Of course that is exactly what they have done since.”

Mr Durkan, speaking on BBC Radio Ulster’s Inside Politics programme, said the leaders of the two unionist parties had allowed the loyalist paramilitaries to take the lead over policing and parades.

“It seems as thought the whip hand in unionist politics actually lies with the paramilitaries who showed their real nature last weekend,” he said.

He dismissed the DUP call for a “root and branch” review of the Parades Commission – what the party really wanted was its abolition, he said.

Mr Durkan said ahead of the re-routed Whiterock parade Sir Reg had not, through the terms he had used, made his position clear.

“It was, I believe, the rhetoric used by himself and Ian Paisley, even in advance of last weekend, that almost solicited the sort of violence we had,” said Mr Durkan.

Meanwhile two Anglican bishops today offered to help communities caught up in the loyalist violence.

The Church of Ireland Bishop of Connor, Alan Harper and Bishop of Down and Dromore, Harold Millar, said they hoped to meet people in the areas affected.

Bishop Harper said they “wanted to understand the issues behind the violence".

He said: “The first thing we intend to do is to meet the clergy on the ground from those parishes that have been directly concerned in Belfast.

“We will then invite them to talk to us alongside members of their own congregations whom they will identify as being able to talk freely to us about that matter.”

In a joint statement the bishops said they rejected violence as a legitimate method of expressing grievances.

The bishops also demanded an end to the “unseen intimidation” of stones through widows, finger-pointing and the subtle violence which was as real as the riots.

“It is time to move beyond this and to create genuine processes that engage more than a handful of people in our land in determining the future,” they added.

:: A 14-year-old Catholic schoolboy allegedly joined loyalist rioters to attack the security forces in Lisburn, Co Antrim last week, it was revealed today.

The teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was allegedly videotaped throwing stones and police and troops last Monday.

He was released on bail and ordered to stay indoors between 6.00pm and 8.00am when he appeared at Lisburn Magistrates Court.

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