Police 'will enforce law' on Twelfth

Published Friday, 04 July 2014
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The new PSNI chief constable has warned that anyone intent on causing trouble over a controversial parade in north Belfast will face the full force of the law.

George Hamilton spoke to UTV after the Orange Order was stopped from marching past the Ardoyne shops on the Twelfth night.

The Parades Commission has determined that the outward route along the Crumlin Road will be permitted with restrictions on the morning of 12 July, as it happened last year.

Unionists and loyalists have reacted angrily to the watchdog's decision.

"Let me be very clear," the police chief said. "We will uphold this determination. If people breach the determination and involve themselves in disorder, where appropriate they will be arrested, we will take the case to the Public Prosecution Service and people will end up in court.

"Of the 698 people we've charged or reported through the flags protests and the disorder last summer there has been a conviction rate of 98%.

"We don't want to criminalise young people from any community but we have to be very clear - there are consequences for people's actions and if they step outside of the law, we will do what the police are expected to do and enforce the law."

I am telling people if they break the law they will be brought to justice.

George Hamilton

The watchdog on Thursday barred the return march past the interface which separates unionist and nationalist areas - a decision which the Orange Order has slammed as "preposterous".

In recent years the area has become a flashpoint for serious rioting.

Loyalist violence broke out after the parade was stopped from returning along the road last year, while a protest has been ongoing at the Twaddell camp over the 2013 decision.

Chief Constable George Hamilton insists that trouble this summer is not inevitable.

He continued: "You just need to look back at the past two parade seasons on the Twelfth at Ardoyne when we saw serious disorder, so it's a reasonable assessment for us to plan around the possibility that there could be disorder - but it is not inevitable.

"I would encourage anybody with influence to try and make sure tension is reduced."

Unionist leaders walked out of talks at Stormont on Thursday after the Parades Commission ruling was made, and issued a joint statement calling for peaceful action from the PUL community.

Mr Hamilton has welcomed calls for calm from all five Executive parties but said it is important that the message is passed down to "community level".

He continued: "I think the political leadership is there and that is reassuring however the challenge is getting that drilled down to community level so that communities are taking it upon themselves to exercise the restraint that is being encouraged by their political leaders.

"Young people who don't have convictions today, if they operate outside of the law over the Twelfth period there is a very good chance they will end up in court with a conviction. That has implications for them in relation to employment and travel opportunities and all sorts of things.

"The community policing aspect of this is, I am telling people we don't want to do that but we are going to do our jobs, so they have choices to make - people need to be responsible for the consequences of their own actions."

© UTV News
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49 Comments
graham in dublin wrote (71 days ago):
all parades should be allowed
me in here wrote (71 days ago):
I wish the police would uphold the already existing law rather than uphold the pc determinations which is nothing more than what republicans want.
Larry in Belfast wrote (71 days ago):
In case you don't know, Law started for us with Moses in the Bible. Our laws should be based on God's law if you want to be fair and moral. When are the police and politicians going to get back to the 'true' standards that made Britain and Northern Ireland famous and strong, but which has sadly been long lost to immorality and lawlessness. We are only suffering what our actions deserve through our Godlessness and lawlessness!!!!
eddy in belfast wrote (72 days ago):
explain the orange tradition not enough space on this to do that originated in lough all 1795, due to Catholic and Protestant conflicts, big in the USA Canada Scotland republic and here linked undeniably to unionism and that in itself links it to Britishness which the grand masters would all agree.
Graham Allen in Dublin wrote (72 days ago):
The PC allowed the parade go down the ardoyne but not return. What is the problem?
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