SF accuses DUP of yielding to hardline elements over parade

Posted By: July 05, 2014


Dan Keenan. Irish Times.  Friday, July 4, 2014, 17:00

Unionist leaders are being pressed to clarify what they mean by a “graduated
response” in protest at a decision to ban anOrange demonstration at a north Belfast
sectarian interface.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuiness accused the DUP of being swayed by its own
hardline elements and by pressure from loyalist paramilitaries.

“The agenda in north Belfast is being led by the UVF and the Orange Order,” he said.

“I think it’s very disappointing that we have now seen effectively the Ulster
Unionist Party and the DUP throw in their lot with those who would attempt to foment
conflict on the streets.”

He said Peter Robinson, the DUP leader and First Minister, was “not in a position to
take decisions,” because of such pressure from such elements.

Senior unionists deny their aim is to threaten the Stormont institutions, to provoke
civil unrest or to give in to loyalist paramilitary pressure.

“We can only seek to use our influence,” said DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson. “At the end
of the day, we are not in a position to direct people and to order them into what
they should do.”

Referring to a joint protest statement agreed by the main unionist parties and
political representatives of the UVF and UDA, Mr Donaldson added: “If it turns out
that people do engage in violence they have to answer for that, and we will hold
them to account. That’s why we wanted to bind people into a clear, unequivocal
statement which makes clear that violence and unlawfulness can be no part in what we
are seeking to achieve.”

PSNI chief constable George Hamilton, who has been in post for just five days, has
insisted his officers will strive to protect people and to uphold the law and the
determinations of the Parades Commission.

Unionist figures have been repeatedly pressed in a series of broadcast interview
this morning about what a “graduated response” meant.

Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt said that would “become more obvious as the days
and weeks roll out”. He declined to be specific.

“All I’m prepared to say at the moment is that ‘graduated’ is not necessarily the
same as ‘escalated’, and everything we do will be lawful and peaceful.”

Political leaders had to act in defence of the electorate when people were being
treated unfairly, he added.

The DUP and Ulster Unionists yesterday walked out of talks with Sinn Féin and the
SDLP on issues following from the Haass/O’Sullivan discussions last December on
hearing that the Parades Commission had banned the return Orange march past Ardoyne
shops. It has been the scene for serious disorder in recent years. Cross-Border
talks in Dublin involving Stormont ministers and the Government have also been