Governments urge support for PSNI and parades body
The British and Irish governments have urged strong support for the Northern Ireland police and the Parades Commission as the summer loyalist marching season approaches.
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore and Northern Secretary Theresa Villiers (above) yesterday made a joint call for calm on the streets of Belfast in the wake of the decision late last year by Belfast City Council to restrict the flying of the union flag.
Protests are ongoing, particularly in east Belfast, and more are planned in the run-up to this summer’s parades. The Tánaiste conceded that political representatives had been taken aback at the ferocity of the street violence following the flags row at Belfast City Hall. But he said the dispute had to be put in context.
“The numbers are small and there should be a distinction between those who cause trouble and those who legitimately protest. They do have a right to protest in a democracy. It became problematic . . . when it degenerated into violence.”
Looking ahead to this summer’s loyalist marching, Ms Villiers said it was vital there was support for the commission.