PSNI in parades body respect call

Published Thursday, 06 September 2012
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Controversial rulings made by the Parades Commission must be respected, the Chief Constable has said.

PSNI in parades body respect call
Chief Constable Matt Baggott spoke at Thursday's Policing Board meeting. (© Pacemaker)

Matt Baggott was speaking at a meeting of the Policing Board on Thursday following three nights of violence in north Belfast, which started when a republican parade passed close to Carlisle Circus on Sunday.

Unionists had called for the commission to be scrapped after it placed restrictions on bands taking part in a Royal Black Institution parade in August. But the ruling was ignored and loyalist bands played music outside St Patrick's Church on Donegall Street.

Although the disorder in the Carlisle Circus area has faded, there are fears the situation could reignite later this month, when the Ulster Covenant Centenary parade is expected through north Belfast.

"Please continue to do everything possible to reduce tension and encourage dialogue," said the Chief Constable.

I would hope that the 29th is resolved locally without the involvement of the Parades Commission. Please respect the rule of law even if the determinations are controversial.

Matt Baggott

Jonathan Craig, a DUP member of the Policing Board, joined in the condemnation of violence, and added it is critical that a resolution to the parading issue is found.

"We can't have another summer of this, we can't have more officers injured continually trying to separate communities within Northern Ireland.

"The Parades Commission is an outdated, outmoded organisation," he said.

It was the first meeting of the Policing Board since the disorder at Carlisle Circus, during which more than 60 officers were injured.

Mr Baggott described the events as a "setback for the reputation of Northern Ireland", but commended the officers who stood on the front line and the "world class professionalism in their actions of peace-keeping".

"The cost has been police injuries, a diversion of resources from improving lives and helping our most vulnerable, fear and damage to Northern Ireland's reputation. A shadow was cast over very positive progress," he added.

Board Chair Brian Rea said the violence directed at police officers was unjustified and unjustifiable.

Such violence has wider implications and costs for us all. As a society we must work collectively to address the issues that are causing the tensions and disorder.

Brian Rea

The Policing Board was told a 32-strong police team is investigating events on the streets in north Belfast.

"We have been assured by the Chief Constable that there will be robust follow up and arrest of those responsible and for any related unlawful activity," said Mr Rea.

"Police are dealing with the symptoms, there needs to be resolution of the causes and the Board welcomes the initiative now being taken by the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister," he added.

Mr Baggott said those in leadership must "turn this step back into many steps forward".

"Today I am very encouraged by the urgency and positive signs that people are willing to give ground, compromise and seek out reconciliation."

A spokesperson for the Parades Commission welcomed the "increased focus and renewed determination to improve the atmosphere surrounding parading in north Belfast".

"We wish the process well and it is our hope that given time and space these efforts will make progress on what are difficult issues."

© UTV News
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6 Comments
alex mclaughlin in glasgow wrote (691 days ago):
the parades commision should be scraped who else then decides where marches can or cannot go the loyal orders people really need to get to a stage where talking is the best way forward not the old ways we will walk where we want when we want those days are over and i hope that in years to come all this this trouble for marches to go where there are not wanted has ceased and people can have there parades in areas where the residents want them and enjoy rather than cause troubles to ther neighbours
Nick Kent in Belfast wrote (692 days ago):
The Parades Commission, Sinn Feinn, Matt Baggot, the PSNT, the media. It's all their fault boo hoo.
Cynical in Belfast wrote (693 days ago):
If there were no contensious parades there would be no need for the parades commission to exist. Unfortunately there are so it does exist an must be obeyed. I personally believe that its time to get all parades off public roads and into private venues. That would limit the damage done and cut the costs involved with parading for once and for all!
Linda in NI wrote (694 days ago):
the parades commission is a waste of public money, it should be scrapped and any confidence in this farce of a quango is now long gone. As for Matt Baggot when is he going to address the sectarian hatred by SF/IRA against the loyal orders, when is he going to address the issue of republican bands playing outside the Protestant churchs, is he setting up a task force to investigate attacks on Orange halls? Oh no I forgot baggot doesnt want to upset the IRA!!!! He should be ashamed to wear the PSNI uniform. When will the media have the guts to challenge sinn fein lies
W in Northern Ireland wrote (695 days ago):
No mention of the illegal republican paramilitary parade in Dungiven, which also passed a church? Are the PSNI, Parades Commission and media just going to turn a blind eye to that? Double standards it seems.
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