NI Assembly backs motion criticising Parades Commission

Wednesday 17 July 2013 07.15
A total of 71 police officers have been injured during disturbances in north and east Belfast since Friday
A total of 71 police officers have been injured during disturbances in north and east Belfast since Friday

The Stormont Assembly has voted in favour of a motion criticising a recent decision by Northern Ireland's Parades Commission as "lawful but illogical."

Out of Assembly's 108 members, 85 participated in the vote on the motion proposed by the DUP and it was carried by a single vote, 43 votes to 42.

The motion was proposed by the DUP, the largest party in the Assembly, and it also had the backing of the Ulster Unionist party.

The Parades Commission had been criticised by unionists after it stipulated that Orange Order bands could not march home past national streets in Ardoyne on 12 July.

A total of 71 police officers were injured in four nights of rioting in Northern Ireland linked to the banning of the contentious parade.

There have been 60 arrests since trouble first flared on Friday night.

There was more trouble on the streets of Belfast last night, as at least four blast bombs and several petrol bombs were thrown at police.

Ahead of the Assembly's recall, PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott urged politicians to use "calming words".

"In the aftermath of four days of disorder and attacks on police, I would urge the Assembly to condemn all violence, unequivocally support the brave efforts of my colleagues and affirm that all protests must be both peaceful and lawful," he said.

"The PSNI is resolved to upholding the rule of law. Today is a day for calming words and a renewed commitment from the Assembly to finding political solutions.

"There are already too many injured police officers and young people facing prison sentences for anything else to be acceptable."

Call for agreement on parade management

Parades Commission chairman Peter Osborne has said the violence was "deplorable" and called for political agreement on how to tackle the issue in future.

He told the BBC: "It has been on the cards for many years now and it's why an all-party group has been set up to look at parades, flags and emblems, how we deal with the past.

"More power to the elbow of those politicians, from our end, if they can reach agreement around parading."

The vast majority of parades were peaceful and "we are making real improvements", he said.

"But it is appalling that this violence has been visited on the police over the last few days, it is something that should be deplored by everybody.

"What actually annoys me more than everything else is some people pointing a finger at the police when they have shown incredible restraint over the last few days."

Elsewhere, US Vice-President Joe Biden has expressed deep concern at the parade-related violence and the attacks on police.

It is understood he made his remarks in a conversation with First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.