David Cameron urges Belfast parade dispute to be ‘sorted out’

‘Twelfth’ violence damaging to Northern Ireland’s future, says British prime minister

Britain’s prime minister David Cameron has said the violence after the return “Twelfth” Orange Order parade in north Belfast, which resulted in a teenage girl being seriously injured and 25 PSNI officers also suffering injuries, was unacceptable. Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters

Britain’s prime minister David Cameron has said the violence after the return “Twelfth” Orange Order parade in north Belfast, which resulted in a teenage girl being seriously injured and 25 PSNI officers also suffering injuries, was unacceptable. Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters

 

The violence in north Belfast on Monday night was damaging to Northern Ireland’s reputation and its future, British prime minister David Cameron has stated.

Mr Cameron called on the annual disputes over the return “Twelfth” Orange Order parade in north Belfast to be “sorted out”, and said the violence which resulted in a teenage girl being seriously injured and 25 PSNI officers also suffering injuries was unacceptable.

“Overall, this year’s Twelfth of July was an overwhelmingly peaceful celebration in most areas of Northern Ireland. But what happened in north Belfast is not acceptable,” said Mr Cameron yesterday (Wednesday).

Tensions appear to be calming following Monday’s night’s violence that erupted when Orangemen were blocked close to the top of the Woodvale Road and prevented from parading on past the Ardoyne shops.

There was some minor violence in the loyalist Woodvale area on Tuesday night and into early Wednesday morning following the nightly Orange Order and loyalist parade to police lines at Twaddell Avenue.

Suspicion of riotous behaviour

A 16-year-old girl was arrested on suspicion of riotous behaviour following disturbances during which five petrol bombs were thrown by youths at police. Two police officers were injured by bottles hurled at them at about 1.30am on Wednesday morning.

In a separate incident, two men aged 38 and 37 were charged with acting provocatively following an incident in Ardoyne on Tuesday night.

Over recent days, the Sinn Féin Assembly member for North Belfast, Gerry Kelly, has called for the Orange Order to enter into dialogue with local residents to try to resolve local parading disputes ahead of next year’s marching season.

SDLP leader Dr Alasdair McDonnell also called on the loyal orders to accept such offers of dialogue.

‘Show leadership’

“Political representatives must show leadership and actively facilitate a period of direct, meaningful and sustained dialogue,” said Dr McDonnell. “Residents in Ardoyne have shown a relentless willingness to reach an agreement on this parade with the Orange Order and their neighbours in Twaddell and Woodvale. The loyal orders cannot continue to spurn that offer,” he added.

“I’m glad that David Cameron has encouraged members and supporters of the loyal orders, and indeed all parties to this dispute, to engage in dialogue. I hope his words hold some influence within that community and will move this issue forward,” said Dr McDonnell.

“Both sides to this dispute once again have common ground - no one wants to see Monday night’s scenes repeated again. This is not something that can wait until next year.

“Dialogue must begin as soon as possible and everyone must work toward resolution.”