The new chief constable has encouraged people to show “dignity and respect” in the wake of the latest Ardoyne parade ruling for July 12 – adding that violence and disorder “is not inevitable” but a matter of personal choice.
George Hamilton was speaking to the Policing Board yesterday after unionists withdrew en bloc from “fruitless” all-party talks on flags, parades and the past.
The unionist leaders yesterday issued a joint statement signed by the DUP, UUP, TUV, PUP and UPRG, which warned of the potential for “widespread violence” — while at the same time urging peaceful protests — after the Parades Commission again stopped the July 12 Orange parade returning past the Ardoyne shops.
But Mr Hamilton, aware of ongoing tensions around Ardoyne, said individuals could choose violence or otherwise.
“The Parades Commission have issued their determination in relation to the Twelfth parade in north Belfast,” he said at his first Policing Board meeting as chief constable.
“Be reassured that PSNI have been planning for every eventuality in recent months. There is no doubt that significant challenges lie ahead, however I want to reiterate our approach will be to uphold the law, protect human rights, implement the Parades Commission determination and work with communities involved to help find solutions.
“I would encourage all communities to continue to show the dignity and respect evident at recent parades and protests so that the remainder of this year’s parading season passes off as peacefully as it has to date.
“Violence and disorder in relation to the Twelfth is not inevitable – individuals have choices to make about how they conduct themselves.”
He recognised the record number of complaints against police last year and has commissioned work to address the issues arising, he said.