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Dublin: 14 °C Thursday 24 July, 2014

SDLP calls on police in Northern Ireland to “assert the rule of law” over flag protests

Earlier today the Chief Constable of the PSNI said that marches and protests in Northern Ireland which do not notify the Parades Commission “must now come to an end”.

Image: Paul Faith/PA Wire

THE SDLP HAS called on the PSNI to assert the rule of law in Northern Ireland following the Parades Commission claim that it has “no role” in the vast majority of protests and parades. The party has also called on the Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers, to intervene to ensure parades legislation is robust.

Earlier the Chief Constable of the PSNI said that marches and protests in Northern Ireland which do not notify the Parades Commission “must now come to an end”.

SDLP policing spokesperson Conall McDevitt said the Secretary of State’s inaction “leaves many questioning her department’s competence and commitment to protecting the hard won progress over the past fifteen years”.

“Even today she could move now to strengthen the Parades and Public Procession Act as a matter of urgency,” he said. “We call on her to do so.”

McDevitt said the illegal flag protests are now a policing matter.

“Whilst this is not a situation the SDLP ever wanted to see the PSNI put in, the fact is the time has now come to clearly and robustly enforce the rule of law,” he said.

“The protesters have long since forfeited their right to peaceful protest. What they are engaged in is illegal and unjustified. A tiny minority in our society are doing untold reputational, social and economic damage to this region.” The SDLP MLA said grievances can only be addressed through “peaceful and democratic dialogue”.

Related: Parades Commission says Northern Ireland can ‘choose’ a peaceful summer>
More: PSNI: ‘Un-notified processions must now come to an end’>

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