Villiers ‘broke word’ on Twaddell

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Theresa Villiers.
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Theresa Villiers.

The DUP and UUP have accused the Secretary of State of “breaking her word” over promises to hold a panel of inquiry into the north Belfast parading impasse.

Theresa Villiers previously said she would go ahead with a panel to look into ongoing tensions.

First Minister Peter Robinson yesterday said he wanted to meet the Orange Order about the decision.

“I had no idea that it was being brought to an end, the secretary of state was not going ahead with it,” he told the BBC.

“I would have thought that, as someone who had spoken to her on a number of occasions in relation to the parades panel, that she would have come back to us to tell us what her decision was before she would have gone public.”

UUP leader Mike Nesbitt said he was “shocked” by the announcement.

“It was disgraceful that I wasn’t told that the panel wasn’t going to happen, and neither was Peter Robinson,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Ms Villiers said there was “insufficient support” for the panel “to varying degrees, on both sides of the community”.

DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson said his party had not negotiated on parades in recent talks.

He hit back that some of those claiming otherwise “were on their holidays in the summer when the DUP were standing with the Orangemen in north Belfast”.