Parades Commission must show consistency: Nigel Dodds

editorial image

Nigel Dodds has called on the Parades Commission to show consistency in its decisions after it granted permission for a republican march through Belfast city centre without restriction.

The North Belfast MP said an Anti-Internment League parade planned for August 10 “would raise tensions in the current climate over parading”.

Mr Dodds said the event, which attracted a large counter protest by loyalists last year leading to violence and several police officers being injured, was a “coat-trailing exercise”.

He said: “It’s a parade that is unwanted by the vast bulk of people on both sides of Northern Ireland and in Belfast. If the Parades Commission were consistent in their determinations, then they would apply the same logic to this parade as they apply to loyalist parades and Orange Order parades. It’s typical of the Parades Commission and I think this parade does nothing for community relations and just causes further damage to the image of Belfast.”

Mr Dodds added: “Undoubtedly it raises tensions in Belfast at a time where we have had quite a peaceful period in relation to parades generally. This is totally unnecessary and unjustified.”

Organisers say the march is to “raise awareness of the plight of those currently interned, either by the British Government via Stormont or by the 26 County establishment”.

They claim that remanding those charged with terror offences in custody, and revoking early release scheme licences, amounts to modern day internment.

Two protests against the parade have been organised by the Shankill Residents Group and the Loyal People’s protest.