16 September 2005

Paisley's warning of more violence

Belfast Telegraph

Government 'must address unionist fears'

By Deborah McAleese
16 September 2005

UNIONISTS last night put the onus on the Government to control loyalist violence.

DUP leader Ian Paisley warned the Government that unless it addresses unionist frustrations, loyalist violence will continue.

UUP leader Sir Reg Empey accused Secretary of State Peter Hain of not listening to the concerns of the communities that erupted in violence this week.

Calls were made for the Government to abandon the Parades Commission as it has "no support" within these communities.

A delegation of DUP and UUP members met with Mr Hain yesterday to discuss the recent violence that paralysed the streets of Greater Belfast since the weekend.

Following the meeting, Mr Paisley said: "There will be no political progress whatsoever until the Government is seen to treat unionists with equality and respect. The choice for the Government is very clear. It either follows the democratic solution that has been presented to it or continues with the message that terrorism and criminality pay."

He added: "It is time for the Secretary of State to abandon the Parades Commission and move to an alternative structure.

"The Parades Commission was never supported by the unionist community and there is certainly no confidence in it to deal impartially with the parading issue."

Calls were made by the UUP for Mr Hain to "get on the ground" and engage with the communities that "inexcusably erupted in violence" at the weekend.

Sir Reg Empey said: "Mr Hain should have engaged directly with these communities at an earlier stage. He must listen to their concerns and enter into dialogue with opinion formers at a grass roots level.

"He must understand that the sense of alienation felt by ordinary unionists is profound.

He added: "The problem underlying the violent scenes witnessed at the weekend is that over the years people's experience is that violence works, democracy doesn't.

"The Secretary of State must work with local politicians to restore credibility in the democratic process."

Both leaders condemned the violence and called for it to be brought to an end.

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