Widespread praise heaped on efforts to reduce tension

Nigel Dodds
Nigel Dodds

Nigel Dodds has praised the Orange Order, community leaders and political representatives for their work in ensuring the Twelfth celebrations in north Belfast passed off peacefully.

Speaking yesterday, the area’s MP said “tolerance and respect must be the key ingredients moving forwards”, and added: “Despite severe provocation from republican elements and the scandalous decision of the Parades Commission, the world has witnessed a traditional Belfast Twelfth and a peaceful, lawful and effective protest this evening on the Woodvale Road.”

Ulster Unionist MLA Tom Elliott said: “I am pleased that the position taken by the unionist political parties to give leadership has been vindicated, although I’m sure other political representatives may feel a sense of disappointment that their doomsday scenario did not happen.

“Sinn Fein, SDLP and Alliance seem to be happy to avoid the issue of nationalist/republican violence, yet it is this issue which ultimately makes up the mind of the Parades Commission.”

TUV councillor Jolene Bunting said the peaceful outcome will have “greatly disappointed” the enemies of the Orange Order.

A spokesman for the Parades Commission said: “The work which takes place at grassroots level by parade and protest organisers, and local politicians, is challenging but invaluable.

“Reducing tension and instances of public disorder is an encouraging backdrop against which to address outstanding parading issues through sincere, meaningful and sustained dialogue.”

Police Federation chairman Terry Spence said he was delighted that PSNI officers had played a central role in ensuring a peaceful Twelfth, and also congratulated all others involved in preventing violence.

SDLP MLA Alban Maginness said it is “vital that both communities now re-engage in open, honest and sustained dialogue aimed at securing a lasting resolution”.