Talks collapse after Ardoyne ruling

Published Thursday, 03 July 2014
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The latest round of Stormont talks aimed at resolving contentious issues have collapsed, with unionist parties walking out in the wake of a ruling on the Twelfth return parade in Ardoyne.

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The Parades Commission has refused permission for bands and lodges to return past the north Belfast interface area on 12 July.

But a joint statement from the DUP, UUP, TUV, PUP and UPRG hit out at the determination and called for action from the PUL community.

Speaking to UTV, DUP First Minister Peter Robinson said he was not going to list the measures that would be taken, but that the first steps - including abandoning the talks - were being made clear.

"There will be protests," he said.

"And we have already indicated that, as political leaders, we don't intend to have any further contact with the Parades Commission - they don't listen to us any way."

The DUP leader further branded the Parades Commission "completely incompetent".

He said: "This decision, I think, defies all logic.

"Of course nationalists and republicans will be jumping up and down applauding them, but those of us who want to have a peaceful summer are outraged by their decision."

Mr Robinson's comments came after the joint unionist statement, which claimed that the message sent out by the Parades Commission was simple.

"It has shown that the Commission members place no value on a relationship with unionism and have treated our advice with contempt," the statement said.

"It has turned its face away from the evidence including from the PSNI. It is regrettable, but so be it.

"As a consequence we, as leaders of the unionist community, see no value in continuing contact with a Parades Commission that does not listen and is immune to reason."

Political action in tandem with peaceful and lawful protests is the path we must follow.

Unionist statement

Last year, the same determination saw protests on the streets and violence flared.

Both the DUP and UUP have said that they are ending their participation in the leaders' talks, branding them "fruitless", while joining with the TUV, PUP and UPRG in response to the situation.

"We have bound ourselves together to defend our community and culture from the callous disregard of those who pander to republican demands," the joint statement adds.

"We will not see our communities destroyed, police and civilians injured, and young people left with criminal records."

The statement claims that the Parades Commission has rewarded "republican threats of violence".

Northern Ireland Secretary of State Theresa Villiers said: "The Parades Commission ruling and subsequent political developments today will provoke strong feelings from many in Northern Ireland, but it is essential that the rule of law is respected in any reaction to what has happened.

"The last thing Northern Ireland needs is any kind of public disorder which could put police officers at risk of injury or worse and which would damage Northern Ireland's reputation abroad and undermine efforts to attract jobs and investment."

Reacting to the walk-out, Sinn Féin deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness appealed for calm.

"This is a time for leadership and this is a time for people to stand together and send a very clear message that, whatever problems and difficulties there are, there can be no resulting to violence over the course of the next couple of weeks," he said.

"This is a time for steady leadership, for people to remain calm and remain absolutely peaceful, to abide by the Parades Commission determination and support the PSNI."

Alliance Justice Minister David Ford has said he is “horrified and disgusted” by the withdrawal of the DUP and UUP from all-party talks.

He branded the move “utterly irresponsible and disgraceful” and added: “They will inevitably escalate tensions over parading.”

According to Mr Ford, the unionist parties have shown that they were “never committed” to finding resolutions to long-standing issues.

SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell said there was "a desperate need for people to keep calm".

He added that the public were actually ahead of the politicians in wanting to see the talks succeed.

"All of the parties need to get back in the room and talk it out; this is the only way of making progress," he said.

"One specific parade or one specific issue should not be allowed to derail the entire process that has the potential to resolve the outstanding challenges we face.

"This is a time for calm heads. If we have learned anything in 40 years, it is that you can make all the threats you like, you can destabilise what you like - but at the end of the day, you have to come back to the institutions. We need the institutions to hold our community together."

Further to the talks collapse, the meeting of the North-South Ministerial Council planned for Dublin on Friday has been cancelled after the DUP asked for a postponement until September.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
143 Comments
me in belfast wrote (75 days ago):
if yas r bored n sick of hearin about it, dont read it, n y take time to write on this, the parades are still goin ti happen no matter how much yas moan.
francis in dungannon wrote (76 days ago):
how come when the pc make a determination to allow a march in the morning and not in the evening are they pandering to republican violence? Look at last years footage OF GROWN MEN IN SASHES AND ORANGE REGALIA attacking the police after listening to bigoted and chest beating speeches from a religious / cultural organisation a drop of drink and you have a recipe for disaster. What has this got to do with culture? just because the OO and its supporters got marching when, where and as often as they liked it was taken as a given that they could keep doing it. Where abouts in England Wales or Scotland do they celebrate this so called culture or fly flags on lampposts like dogs marking their territory till they rot and decay [ respect the flag of your nation not the disrespect it gets from both sides here }As for the clampets on the hill they would be better spending time on real issues affecting 99.99% of the decent ordinary people of this province { not a country }like health , education { especially in the deprived areas of Belfast }jobs proper wages and no 0hour contracts etc. a bit rich of the first minister who 2weeks ago cancelled a planned jobs and investment trip to brazil because he felt he would be needed more here to sort parading and how quick could they get a statement out from dup/uup/tuv/uvf/uda yet take days weeks to answer or acknowledge real crises. Wake up ppl you voted these muppetts into so called power and now their own egos are bigger than the people and constantly need a dispute over something to keep up the charade. Bring back direct rule at least you know from the outset you'll be shafted.
lucylou in belfast wrote (76 days ago):
Ryan in AN DUN =='this marching season is going to be a laugh. '==Weird sense of humour. If things go badly and people are hurt or worse, would that be a real rib tickler ? Just think about it.
lucylou in belfast wrote (76 days ago):
AK in IRELAND==I wouldn't have anyone in politics who had ANYTHING to do with any type of action that added to the woes of this place. I certainly would not be looking to one 'side' of the community ==I would be ruthless and clear the place of EVERY one of them including the FM and the DFM==.B. Hutchinson--G. Kelly and a long list of others. In my opinion they were and remain corner boys. Unfortunately they have proved it on more than one occasion. Things will never improve while the likes of these people are let play at running N Ireland.
Dorothy in Kansas wrote (76 days ago):
I watched the debate on line and was amazed to see the attitude of Jeffrey Donaldson and Tom Elliot. Elliot used to be the leader of the UUP, the party that ruled NI uninterrupted for 50 years. How did it happen that he became leader, is the talent in the UUP so poor that he was the best they could get? Listening to the other viper just makes my blood boil.
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BRIAN ROWAN
The voice above the crowd didn't come from within that increasingly tense and angry political arena.
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