Fianna Fáil Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Brendan Smith TD has responded to overnight violence associated with an Orange Parade in North Belfast.
He condemned what he described as ‘straightforward hooliganism’ and called on the political parties in the North to at least make some effort to move forward the agenda.
Deputy Smith commented, “People across the country waking to news of overnight rioting in North Belfast will have found it all depressingly familiar. The actors and the backdrop may switch from year to year, but the script stays the same. Meanwhile, decent and law abiding families in Belfast are left to live with the fall out of this dysfunction.
“Some reports speak with relief that the rioting wasn’t as bad as year x or year y, as if we should only be concerned about an Irish city paralyzed by street violence if someone is killed or seriously injured.
“It just isn’t good enough. A large section of a major Irish city was taken over by straightforward hooliganism last evening. People with no connection to this madness were prisoners in their own homes and the image and reputation of the city they live and work in has taken another hammering.
“It just isn’t good enough that the only public policy response to this is, ‘how does the PSNI manage the fallout?’ If we’re serious about building on the peace process and giving every family in the North a chance of a better future, this needs to be stopped. These hooligans and those who organize them need to know that they will not be allowed to take over entire communities. They need to be clear that the Northern Executive will not tolerate any level of casual violence.
“Fianna Fáil is very well aware that there are no simple answers to a problem that has been with us in one form another for generations, but we have to at least try. The institutions that were put in place after the Good Friday Agreement give us the space and structure to at least try.
“Our great fear is that the political establishment in the North is no longer even trying. The Stormont House Agreement, reached with great fanfare just a few short months ago, addresses many of the underlying issues and now lies on the shelf gathering dust.
“I understand that the backlog of unresolved political issues in the North is long and growing daily. And the blame game on who has responsibility for this has been well rehearsed. But the political establishment is only in place because the people have continued to support it. If the leadership of the DUP and Sinn Féin do not work harder to actually resolve the outstanding issues that are paralyzing Northern public life, the people themselves will wonder whether it’s worth even trying to make politics work. Politics must work for every community and extremists must be marginalised”.