CRAIGAVON Borough Council will write to the NI Parades Commission to “urgently request” that an initiative being used to tackle July 12 unrest in north Belfast is extended to the Drumcree impasse.
Ulster Unionist members put forward a notice of motion at Tuesday evening’s monthly council meeting, calling for Peter Osborne, chairman of the commission, to apply the initiative on the contentious Ardoyne parade to Portadown.
Lord Alderdice is heading an Ardoyne parade group, which will also include Holy Cross priest Father Gary Donegan and the former Presbyterian Moderator, the Rev Norman Hamilton.
The Craigavon motion was put forward by the UUP’s Colin McCusker, Arnold Hatch and Kenneth Twyble.
Mr MCusker explained his reasoning behind putting the motion forwrad.
He said, “I am concerned that the message that the Parades Commission risks sending out to the people of Northern Ireland is that if you become involved in violence, if you riot, if you throw petrol bombs, if you terrorise your own community, not to mention wasting valuable police resources, you will be rewarded by a special initiative, led by notable civic and church leaders.
“However, as the members of Portadown District do, if you conduct your protest with dignity, respectfully and above all peacefully, the best you can expect is a pat on the head and a few well-rehearsed platitudes from the men and women in the ivory towers of the Parades Commission.”
Ulster Unionists were accused of attempting to ‘capitalise’ on the issue, with Alderman Sydney Anderson claiming that the UUP failed to contribute to Stormont’s parades working group which was tasked with examining the issue of parades.
Instead Mr Anderson proposed an amendment which stated that the “willingness of Portadown District No 1 to enter into dialogue without preconditions” should be recognised.
However, the UUP refused to adopt the DUP amendment. The original motion was eventually passed. The council was split along green/orange lines with Sinn Fein and SDLP voting against.
Sein Fein Councillor Gemma McKenna put forward a motion for the council to “support dialogue to resolve disputes. However we (as a council) recognise that imposing a framework upon participants will not achieve resolution”.
However, it was then pointed out by the Mayor, Councillor Alan Carson, having taken advice from the council chief executive, Theresa Donaldson, that a notice of motion must be received by the council at least seven days beforehand, before it can be discussed by members. Subsequently the motion could not be put forward.
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