'Bold moves' needed from NI leaders
Political leaders in the North need to make bold moves to address sectarian division and bring Union flag violence to an end, Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers said.
Ms Villiers met community and church figures in east Belfast today. Loyalist rioting which injured around 100 police officers has been fiercest in the area.
Ms Villiers said it was important for all politicians to be forthright in condemning violence and calling for real progress on building a shared society.
“I am encouraging them to continue to work together and send out a signal strongly that Northern Ireland is open for business,” she said. “They need to make progress on unfinished business for some in Northern Ireland. There remains deep-seated divisions on sectarian lines. It is hugely important we have bold moves to try and address that.”
Separately, the DUP has made an official complaint to the Northern Ireland Assembly’s standards and privileges committee after Sinn Féin Assembly member Alex Maskey said if he lived in the Short Strand area of east Belfast he would “be throwing stones” against loyalists who were attacking the homes of local nationalists.
The South Belfast MLA refused on a number of occasions today to retract the comments he made on UTV last night about the continuing loyalist protests and violence.
On the UTV Live programme not long after more trouble in east Belfast, including a loyalist attack on homes in Short Strand, it was put to Mr Maskey, a former Northern Ireland Policing Board member, that nationalists were also throwing missiles at loyalist protesters.
Mr Maskey said there was an “ongoing assault” against the Short Strand community. “What we’ve been hearing tonight is people from the Short Strand throwing stones back and, if they are, they’re defending their homes,” he said.
“And if I lived in the Short Strand, I’d be throwing the stones along with those people - because it’s disgraceful what those families are having to put up with,” added Mr Maskey.
The DUP said it reported the remarks to the Stormont standards and privileges commissioner in a formal complaint.