It is hard to argue with Bishop of Down and Connor, Noel Treanor, when he expresses surprise and concern regarding the PSNI’s refusal to act to enforce the lawful restrictions placed upon Saturday’s loyalist parade, not least since every year on the 12th July the same PSNI enforces Parades Commission determinations in spite of being conscious of the fact that violence may result.
Indeed, the Irish News editorial this morning, entitled ‘Police should enforce rulings,’ echoes the Bishop’s sentiments, concluding that “it would have been preferable if the [Parades Commission] rulings had been enforced in the first place.”
The difference, of course, is that the violence following in the aftermath of the enforcement of a determination favouring loyalists will likely originate from nationalist quarters.
Bishop Treanor pulled no punches when challenging the PSNI in today’s Irish News to explain why “no visible effort” was made to prevent loyalist bands from defying the Parades Commission determination.
He also had strong words for the marching loyalists and their cheerleading contingent of unionist politicians, describing the “insulting behaviour” of the bandsmen as “not being worthy of our city, nor of the Christian ideals espoused by the Royal Black Perceptory and other organisations involved.”
Regarding the decision of unionist politicians to sign that letter, he had this to say:
“Their signing of this letter disappoints profoundly all who espouse an open, shared and tolerant society based on mutual respect.”
Meanwhile, it has been noteworthy how quickly the very same unionist politicians who signed the letter and participated in the march involving multiple breaches of the Parades Commission determination have gone to ground (anybody seen Peter, Nigel or Nelson recently?) Perhaps they’re working on Peter’s next important speech to entice the hordes of catholic unionists out there…
Instead, the collective unionist political leadership has clearly decided to allow senior Shankill loyalist, Winston Irvine (yes, he with an, ahem, insight into the thinking of the UVF) to lead unionism’s public defence of its actions in Belfast on Saturday.
And the going to ground strategy hasn’t been without its own problems.
Nigel Dodds’ deflectionary tactic of blaming republicans for the violence that briefly broke out during Saturday’s parade has now been exposed as a lie with the news that a Scottish loyalist has been charged in relation to this incident, which has been clearly captured in video footage.
Here’s Nigel Dodds’ press statement released Saturday on his website:
Commenting after the parade came under attack from republican protestors the DUP MP said, ‘I want to commend the many people who worked very hard to try to ensure as peaceful a day as possible including all our DUP MLAs and councillors, members of the North and West Belfast Parade Forum and parade marshals, who were present on the ground to help defuse trouble.
The republican attack on, and incursion into, the parade, which resulted in a skirmish and the injuring of police officers are to be deplored and condemned.
And here’s DUP Shankill councillor, Guy Spence, peddling the same line on his Twitter account:
Guy Spence: 1 Riot Police had to come onto the scene when Republican Protestors attempted to break their ranks and attack band members.
Over to Sir Walter Scott:
Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practise to deceive!