Police clash with loyalist protestors in Belfast over the weekend Niall Carson/PA Wire
Belfast Riots

Parades Commission chairman hits out at Belfast riots

Peter Osborne said that there were people who felt they were “not bound by their responsibilities to adhere to the law”.

OVER 50 POLICE officers were injured in rioting in Belfast over the weekend, in what the chairman of the Parades Commission called “scenes of unwarranted lawlessness”.

Peter Osborne said that the PSNI handled the rioting in a “truly courageous” manner and said that the people of Northern Ireland would be feeling proud of the reaction of the police. Osborne added that PSNI officers had faced “almost intolerable provocation” over the last weekend.

“It is clear that there are some who while wanting to avail of their rights under the law feel that they are not bound by their responsibilities to adhere to the law,” said Osborne.

In Derry, 5,000 Apprentice Boys paraded peacefully, while a controversial republican parade in Castlederg, Co Tyrone, passed off without incident. In Belfast, seven people were arrested and 56 police officers injured after a parade to mark the introduction of internment in 1971.

PSNI officers used a water cannon and fired 26 plastic baton rounds, while vehicles were set alight and shopfronts damaged.

Osborne said that there needed to be tolerance on all sides of the divide.

“People have choices.  In years to come whether our grandchildren demonstrate respect for each other’s identity and traditions will depend on their relationship with each other; and that will depend on what we, in this generation, do now.”
However, Osborne did not say that contentious parades would be avoided in future.
Balancing the rights of marchers with concerns of protestors is hugely challenging for the Commission but we will continue to do so in a fair and balanced way.

Read: Adams: IRA was responsible for Portlaoise prison officer’s death

In Pics: Controversial Republican parade passes peacefully in Tyrone

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