The Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams has again gone on the offensive against unionist politicians, loyalists and members of the Orange Order.
Mr Adams said in west Belfast yesterday that unionist political leaders were failing to take a stand against those who have been organising sectarian violence in Belfast and he accused unionist "law and order" parties of "deafening silence" and "hypocrisy".
The Louth TD used a republican commemoration for people who died in the St James's area of west Belfast during the Troubles to claim that some Orange Order members were "in alliance" with the UVF and the Progressive Unionist Party and had "been deliberately stoking up tensions at interface areas with provocative marches".
“The DUP and UUP leaderships have allowed these organisations to set a violent sectarian agenda. As a consequence hundreds of members of the PSNI have been injured, some seriously,” he added.
For two weeks now Mr Adams and other senior republicans, such such as Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, MLA Gerry Kelly and former Sinn Féin publicity director Danny Morrison, have been talking up difficulties in the political process. Much of the republican anger stems from a decision by First Minister Peter Robinson "in the absence of political consensus" to withdraw support for a peace and reconciliation centre at the old Maze prison site.
Mr Adams on a similar theme yesterday said that the nationalist Short Strand in east Belfast has been under siege for much of the past year, while nationalists in Carrick Hill close to Belfast city centre have been subjected to sectarianism and threats.
“There have been attacks on the homes of members of the Alliance party and their offices, as well as death threats against Sinn Féin elected officials. On the same day that a DUP Minister was warmly welcomed on the Falls Road, the mayor of Belfast was attacked and assaulted by a loyalist mob while carrying out his civic duties,” he added.
“Two weeks ago a young woman was shot five times by the UVF in East Belfast. The PSNI have accused that organisation of involvement in drug dealing, all forms of gangsterism, serious assaults and intimidation.”
Mr Adams said when dissident republicans killed PSNI officers and British soldiers, Mr McGuinness stood "shoulder to shoulder with Peter Robinson and the chief constable" to condemn those actions in "clear and robust" language.
“That’s what unionism needs: positive leaderships to build the process; to take a stand against illegal marches, sectarianism and violence, and the provocative actions of the Orange Order in Belfast,” Mr Adams said.