SINN FÉIN LEADER Gerry Adams has said that the majority of protests over the Union flag issue are illegal.
In a blogpost, Adams pointed to the BNP, the UVF and various criminal elements in Northern Ireland as being responsible for the recent unrest and said that the groups are hijacking the protests around the Union flag.
He called for an all party response to try to stem the violence and attacks of recent days.
“There is an expectation across the community that those who are organising these protests will be subjected to due process and that the protests will be policed in a fair way,” Adams wrote in his ‘Leargas’ blog on the Belfast Media group website.
The vast majority of the protests taking place around the flag issue are illegal. Most are being organised by the BNP, the UVF and criminal elements, some of whom are well known drug pushers. They are seeking to exploit this situation for their own ends.
He was echoing comments made by Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore as well as the head of the Police Federation of Northern Ireland who have both said that what began as protests around the flying of the Union flag have now been hijacked.
Adams called for a meeting of political, church and civic leaders to map a way forward from the current turmoil. “Everyone has to be involved,” he wrote.
This will be a huge challenge. Republicans do not underestimate the problems involved and in particular the difficulties facing unionism. but there can be no going back. The tiny minorities who want to cling to the past must be rejected.
Sixteen police officers were injured yesterday in one of the worst days of violence since unrest began at the start of December over a reduction in the number of days that the Union flag will fly over Belfast City Hall.