No unwanted solutions on flags, parading and past, says NIO

Union flag flying at Belfast City Hall
Union flag flying at Belfast City Hall

The UK Government has insisted there will be no question of imposing unwanted solutions on political leaders in Northern Ireland in a bid to break the impasse on flags, parades and dealing with the legacy of the past.

The NIO made clear its position in the wake of comments to the BBC from Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore, the Republic’s Deputy Prime Minister, that the Dublin and London administrations would consider “an intervention” if the five parties in Stormont’s power-sharing Executive fail to agree a deal.

While Sinn Fein and the SDLP have endorsed a draft deal produced by Dr Haass at the end of the negotiation process he chaired through the second half of last year, the DUP, UUP and the Alliance Party have all expressed concern about elements of the proposals. The leaders of the five parties are due to meet in Belfast tomorrow in a bid to break the deadlock.

After Mr Gilmore’s comments the NIO indicated that if the Government does get involved, it will not be in the form of making proposals that do not have the backing of the Executive parties.

UUP leader Mike Nesbitt, also speaking on the BBC, yesterday said flags and parades are “internal to the affairs of Northern Ireland, and the Republic has no role to play and it’s not useful therefore for Eamon Gilmore to make that sort of a statement”.

DUP MP Gregory Campbell said: “Mr Gilmore’s intervention could prove to be completely counter-productive, and he should take the appropriate action which he can take, which is to apologise for the part his country played at the start of the Troubles and then think much more carefully before commenting further on these issues.”

After last week’s row over Martin McGuinness’ claim that the Orange Order, UVF, and PUP were acting as “one and the same”, and Mr Robinson’s response, the Deputy First Minister said: “Peter says I have a visceral hatred of the Orange Order. This is not true.

“I want to see the Orange treating its Catholic neighbours with respect. I want to see it upholding law and order.

“I respect the Loyal Orders’ right to march. They do that without incident in my city. That is what should happen everywhere. I am happy to meet the Orange at any time and discuss these matters. Orange is one of our country’s national colours.

“The Orange Order of Ireland is one of our national traditions. I want all our traditions to live together in peace and respect and with tolerance from everyone for everyone.”