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Executive Ministers and Chief Constable call for positive leadership over the parading season

The First Minister, deputy First Minister, Justice Minister and Chief Constable have joined together to issue an appeal for all sides to work to secure a peaceful parading season based on respect for the law and respect for each other.
Friday, 21 June 2013

I hope that those who have influence will continue to show leadership and work with their communities and the police to ease tensions where they exist.

Minister of Justice David Ford MLA,Northern Ireland Department of Justice

While recognising that a great deal has already been done, they called on political colleagues and community representatives to redouble their efforts to reduce tensions in the community over the parading season.

First Minister the Rt Hon Peter Robinson MLA said: “So far in 2013 we have witnessed a range of events, not least around the UK City of Culture and the G8, which have showcased Northern Ireland as a vibrant, welcoming and forward looking destination in which to do business and to visit as a tourist destination. There are many reasons to continue to look forward with optimism, not least the opportunities created by the recent announcement of an economic package to accelerate investment in infrastructure and to promote new business opportunities and tourism. As we move into the main parading season we want to ensure that we build on our recent successes and that nothing happens to undermine Northern Ireland’s international reputation or deters potential investors. It is in the interests of everyone in Northern Ireland that respect and tolerance are displayed to ensure a peaceful summer.

I want to thank all those across the community who are working hard to play a constructive role in reducing tensions and I would encourage the entire community as well as elected representatives to play their part to help Northern Ireland have a peaceful and prosperous summer period.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness MLA said: “The Executive is committed to tackling disadvantage, division and sectarianism in our community. Our vision is a united community, based on equality of opportunity while recognising the need for good relations and reconciliation. As I said when announcing the Together: Building a United Community, we want to see a society which is strengthened by its diversity, where cultural expression is celebrated and embraced and where everyone can live, learn, work and socialise free from prejudice, hate and intolerance. That requires mutual respect and I join my Executive colleagues and the Chief Constable in calling for good sense and strong leadership in the weeks and months ahead.

“The G8 Summit has surpassed many expectations and I welcome the fact that those who demonstrated did so peacefully and in a responsible fashion.

“That is a lesson which we can learn from as we prepare for the most contentious parades. To those who are thinking of encouraging disorder or may get caught up in it, I have a clear message - it is not wanted and there is no excuse for it. There is no acceptable level of disorder.”

Justice Minister David Ford MLA said: “I welcome the efforts of all those who are working to secure a peaceful outcome over the remainder of the parading season. Resolution of contentious parades is possible. I hope that those who have influence will continue to show leadership and work with their communities and the police to ease tensions where they exist. We do not want to see violence, with the cost it brings to communities, to policing and to our image.

“Those people, often young, who become caught up in mindless violence need to understand what is at stake. The weight of the law will be applied to anyone found guilty of rioting, or other serious offences. The courts have shown that for some that will mean imprisonment. For many it will mean a criminal record. Equally it needs to be understood that Parades Commission determinations are legally binding, compliance is not optional.

“I hope we can see a peaceful summer building on the really good work done by the Executive and police in recent days.”

Chief Constable Matt Baggott said: “The G8 Summit has seen one of the biggest policing operations ever delivered in Northern Ireland. I am immensely proud of my colleagues and partners who have delivered the safest and most peaceful Summit in recent history. Everybody, politicians, communities and businesses pulled together in a way that sets an example for the future.

Importantly the world leaders saw our country in a positive light and the potential for future investment and support. Now is the time to build upon such optimism. I do not wish to see young peoples futures blighted through getting caught up in violence and the consequences of a criminal record.

“As we approach the most contentious parades I want to repeat that violence is not inevitable if we have responsible leadership, respect for others and willingness to compromise.”

Notes to editors

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