Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Questions (165, 180)

Micheál Martin

Question:

165. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if it is planned to discuss the Parades Commission at the next North/South Ministerial Council; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23706/13]

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Micheál Martin

Question:

180. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on whether the Parades Commission will ensure that the forthcoming marching season will be as peaceful as possible; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28699/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 165 and 180 together.

The issue of Parades features in almost all of my regular discussions with the British government, the First Minister and Deputy First Minister and with political and community leaders in Northern Ireland. I have spoken in the past two weeks with both the Secretary State for Northern Ireland, Theresa Villiers MP and NI Justice Minister David Ford. We have a shared concern about the potential for sectarian violence during the summer marching season. I re-iterated our view that it is essential that the determinations of the Parades Commission are fully respected and that the Commission itself and the Police Service of Northern Ireland receive full support from everyone. Apart from the risk to life and the potential for parades linked violence to damage community relations, it would be a real pity also if the positive images about the North coming out from the success of the G8 conference were replaced with the familiar scenes of riot and attacks on police.

The primary onus for ensuring that the parading season remains peaceful rests with the two communities. What is certain is that for so long as both communities are unable to agree then an outside arbiter or determination mechanism is necessary. The Parades Commission fulfils that essential function at present and the difficult and sometimes unpalatable decisions it is required to make cannot be used as an excuse for violence by anyone.