Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Questions (31, 59)

Michael Colreavy

Question:

31. Deputy Michael Colreavy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if his attention has been drawn to the loyalist violence which erupted during July in Belfast; if he has discussed this issue with political representatives and community representatives in Northern Ireland and his counterpart in Britain; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41153/13]

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Robert Troy

Question:

59. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the discussions he has had with the Northern Ireland Secretary of State and members of the Northern Ireland Executive in relation to violence on the streets of Belfast during the summer months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41216/13]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 31 and 59 together.

I was deeply concerned at the violence experienced in Belfast this summer. I had direct and frequent contact with the Secretary of State and with the Minister for Justice David Ford over the period and reaffirmed my support on a number of occasions for the Police Service of Northern Ireland and for the Parades Commission. I visited Belfast on 29 August 2013 and had detailed discussions with community leaders in Ardoyne, Carrick Hill, Short Strand and in East Belfast who have faced the a particularly difficult situation this summer. I commended them for their leadership and support for a solution based on dialogue and respect. I commend all those who have shown constructive leadership within their communities in very difficult circumstances.

Work must continue to ease tensions at interface areas and to support the rule of law and the Police Service of Northern Ireland charged with upholding the law. The events of this summer, and the ongoing parades in Ardoyne, point to a need to progress meaningful dialogue further. A constructive starting point for any discussion is agreement that the broad consensus on the right to parade is, like all fundamental rights, subject to limitation and must be balanced against the right to freedom from sectarian harassment and discrimination. Meaningful, sustained dialogue between parade organisers and residents’ groups must be an essential aspect of achieving the right balance. Everything else flows from those principles.

I again urge the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, and all Loyal Orders, to promote and to engage in dialogue based on the principle of respect with residents’ groups. I welcome the talks which have now begun under the independent Chairmanship of Richard Haass and the commitment by the Orange Order to engage with that talks process.