Martin McGuinness condemns Anti-Internment Parade

“Those who organised today’s so called anti-internment demonstration in Belfast bear full responsibility for the violence which followed.”

The words of Martin McGuinness earlier this evening.

There are no grounds upon which those who organised today’s Anti-Internment parade could claim to be aggrieved. None whatsoever. That is an important point to establish at the outset.

The parade was applied for and granted, along a route that the organisers correctly maintain should be open to not just loyalist parades, but also their own. Whatever one’s opinion of either the cause of loyalists or republicans, permitting parades of one tradition and not the other through the centre of Belfast would be wrong. But that scenario did not arise.

If the focus of the parade was to highlight either the historical occasion of internment in the early 1970s or the imprisonment of dissident republicans today, then there was a clear opportunity for that to happen as desired if the parade had have proceeded as applied for by the organisers.

However, the decision to alter the start time for the parade, and to not engage with the PSNI ahead of the parade, was clearly designed to place the PSNI in a position to either ignore the Parades Commission determination, or take action to enforce it.

The actions of the PSNI throughout the morning- in preparing sterile zones in the city centre to keep loyalists away from the parade- clearly indicated that the intention was to enforce the parade determination as outlined by the Parades Commission.

Therefore, it was reasonable for the PSNI to act to enforce the determination and halt the parade once it was clear that the parade would not be abiding by the terms of the determination with regard to time.

There was no reason for the parade to not start as intended unless it was to place the PSNI in a difficult position and create conditions which would require the slightest spark to descend into violence. Ironically, such conduct mirrors perfectly the antics of loyalists on the other side of Belfast’s many and varied peacelines, who have played similarly reckless games at the Twaddell and Short Strand interfaces and been rightly condemned by all shades of republicanism- and wider society- in the process. This time, those choreographing the scene have likely left a legacy of custodial sentences for rioting catholic- as opposed to protestant- youths.

Martin McGuinness, as the most senior nationalist elected figure in the north of Ireland, was entirely correct to swiftly and unequivocally condemn those involved. That is the job of leaders.

The PSNI acted within their rights today and can’t be faulted for the decision taken to halt a parade that they were clearly intent on ensuring proceeded as agreed if it abided by the time conditions. But having established a precedent in terms of halting parades for breaching Parades Commission determinations, they will be very conscious of the fact that they will be expected to apply this approach universally henceforward- a necessary step towards further establishing the rule of law and authority of the Parades Commission.

  • mary

    Lets call a spade a spade, 1980s who stood up in the city cemetery,Derry incited hate crime ?
    Learned behaviour from the master . would you Martin mc liar St martin be part of a government, if they did not protect you give you power. Would you entertain Brits if you were not having tea bone steaks with the queen.many false gods and sheep following like lambs to the slaughter. Reap what you sow karma. It was all wrong then and all wrong now. Would you sit in the same room today with G Hamilton, if you were not in Stormont all you wanted was power like your buddy Ian. Well god knows the truth

  • chrisjones2

    ….yes …the wrong kind of republicans

  • Catcher in the Rye

    Very well said Chris.

  • Zeno

    “Martin McGuinness, as the most senior nationalist elected figure in the north of Ireland, was entirely correct to swiftly and unequivocally condemn those involved. That is the job of leaders.”

    It wasn’t a difficult call, so let’s not make it a big thing. It cost nothing cos those guys don’t vote for Sinn Fein anyway.

  • Muiris

    I think it was David Trimble who said that ‘just because a man has a past, doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have a future. I’m not sure if he was thinking of Martin McGuinness.

    I have long doubted that the level of discrimination that existed, justified the violence of the ‘troubles’.

    I have no doubt that violence at any level today is not only unjustified, but actually hinders any process of reconciliation of peoples, followed, I would hope, by some form of Irish political entity covering the whole island.

    Even if that all comes to pass, to adapt Daniel O Connell’s phrase, whose of us who are breaking stones now, will still be breaking stones then, unless we make changes to society which violence can only impede.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    Apparently it is a difficult call. If Unionists could bring themselves to criticise badly behaved loyalist parades using the language above we would all be a lot better off.

  • Zeno

    Unionists would lose votes, Sinn Fein might even gain votes, that’s the difference.

  • Glenn Clare

    Since when did Sinn Fein/IRA get into the politics of “entirely correct to swiftly and unequivocally condemn those involved”???

    The reality is more basic than that, it is just the continuation of current republican campaign of demonizing the PUL community, as evidenced by the swipe at the Orange Order, “Ironically, such conduct mirrors perfectly the antics of loyalists on
    the other side of Belfast’s many and varied peacelines, who have played
    similarly reckless games at the Twaddell and Short Strand interfaces and
    been rightly condemned by all shades of republicanism- and wider
    society- in the process”.
    And of course Sinn Fein/IRA setting themselves up as the only republicans.

    As for McGuinness’ meeting with the chief constable it seems to have gone stright to the head of the poster with the these nuggets. “Therefore, it was reasonable for the PSNI to act to enforce the determination and halt the parade once it was clear that the parade would not be abiding by the terms of the determination with regard to
    time”.
    And this, “There was no reason for the parade to not start as intended unless it
    was to place the PSNI in a difficult position and create conditions
    which would require the slightest spark to descend into violence”

    And this, “The PSNI acted within their rights today and can’t be faulted for the
    decision taken to halt a parade that they were clearly intent on
    ensuring proceeded as agreed if it abided by the time conditions. But
    having established a precedent in terms of halting parades for breaching
    Parades Commission determinations, they will be very conscious of the
    fact that they will be expected to apply this approach universally
    henceforward- a necessary step towards further establishing the rule of
    law and authority of the Parades Commission”.

    Funny how all of a sudden the parades commission are the sweet hearts of the shinners/provos. When not so long ago the shinners/provos were bringing hundreds onto the streets to protest at their determinations on the Crumlin road.

    “Martin McGuinness, as the most senior “nationalist” elected figure in the
    north of Ireland, was entirely correct to swiftly and unequivocally
    condemn those involved. That is the job of leaders”.

    “This time, those choreographing the scene have likely left a legacy of
    custodial sentences for rioting catholic- as opposed to protestant-
    youths”.

    Now insn’t that an interesting turn of phrase above, “as opposed to protestant-
    youths”. That statement implies to me that somehow “protestant youths” are of less value than “cathilic” youths.

    Also he is the most senior republican British minister in a British regional assembly, that is not in doubt.

    As for doubt, is that the same Martin McGuinness who was in the IRA, and is now being rebranded as a cuddly “nationalist” not an unrepentant “republican”????

    Funny how things change but stay the same.

  • paulgraham7567

    It is a shameful waste of youth to see easily influenced kids criminalised no matter what their religion. And it is shameful that our politicians and supposed leaders have allowed this to happen many times.

    I disagree that the article somehow values Protestant kids less than Catholic ones.

    I think the point being made is that too often on both sides of the divide our leaders have opened a can of worms, only to turn round and say “hey, not my fault it all went crazy”.

    We have seen it many times. Drumcree, here today in Belfast, Ardoyne (both sides). The list goes on.

  • paulgraham7567

    So our leaders should only stand up for what is right if it’s in their own interest, is what you are saying?

    Hardly a principled stance?

  • Zeno

    They have no principles. That much is obvious.

  • Redstar2014

    MMG reads his script prepared for him by his British paymasters. If he could only notice ( or care) that in the Republican heartlands of his own city, he and his fellow career politician suits are no longer popular. History repeats itself, Fitt….MMG …

    When it comes to MMG and his career colleagues elasticity with implementing British security and other policies I reckon Mr Mc Cann is so spot on http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/opinion/columnists/eamonn-mccann/accountability-for-policing-still-the-elephant-in-room-31427488.html

  • Jag

    SF didn’t just criticise the march yesterday, they criticised the painting-over of the GAA mural to make way for a RNU poster, the stoning of a bus in Dungiven and at least one anti internment bonfire which they correctly said acted as a magnet for anti social behaviour and which was disrespectful towards others in this small community. All of that will lose SF some votes to the likes of Gary Donnelly in Derry and perhaps to someone like Dee Fennell in Belfast (if the latter gets into politics).It also shows leadership which should garner cross community support.

    As for the violence yesterday, yes, there were fireworks thrown by loyalists who didn’t really have any excuse for rioting at all. There were some firebombs and a lot of stones and golf balls, but overall it wasn’t serious violence. No figures on injured yet from PSNI, but it will be a fraction of the 60 injured in 2013 or at the Ligoneil march last month.The AIL march seems to have attracted around 500 supporters, perhaps less, and included a mish-mash of causes including a group from Scotland trying to get one of their citizens released from a Turkish jail. Very much marginal to the nationalist community, and after yesterday’s antics, likely to become even more marginal.

  • murdockp

    All the schools teach history lessons but none of them teach future lessons.

    the esteem of both loyalists and nationalists from both communities is so low this is what you get.

    they are all hooked on the.misery of the trouble.

    last time I looked the irish republic was a modern, vibrant, multicultural nation looking to the future and focused on establishing it’s place in the world.

    the people of NI are hooked on the past

  • chrisjones2

    Not true ….they have principles in the Republic, Principles in NI, principles for their supporters and principles in the US. They are all just a bit different

  • chrisjones2

    “yes, there were fireworks thrown by loyalists who didn’t really have any excuse for rioting at all. There were some firebombs and a lot of stones and golf balls, but overall it wasn’t serious violence. ”

    About sums up North Belfast

  • John Calvert

    Yeah that’s why here in West Belfast his parties’ MP was re-elected with 55% of the vote, the only MP from the North elected with a majority of the vote.

  • Redstar2014

    I think you will find in West Belfast and other areas the turnout is steadily dropping and pretty soon the majority of the electorate will not be voting. Gone are the days of West Belfast with wards having a 85-90% turnout- some are now around 40%.

    This is especially true with younger voters who see middle aged alleged Republican career politicos munching sausage rolls with the English Queen and supporting oppressive policing against their own community as not exactly traditional Republicanism.

    The naivety of some of their supporters is laughable at times. Outside they protest at royalty visits- whilst inside their leaders fawn over them! State they wont accept British military on the streets- then support them raiding houses in Derry!

  • murdockp

    Wasn’t serious violence…listen to yourself….you wouldn’t say ….he didn’t beat his wife too badly….or ….the child abuse was very minor…..normal people in society don’t do violence, tis behaviour is not normal and all should be arrested, tried and let justice be served. Same with the 12th nonsesense, Twadell etc

  • Jag

    “Nine PSNI officers injured”, all minor, says PSNI on Nolan this morning. Of course, that is nine too many, but relative to previous years, it’s relatively insignificant.

  • sidney gotleib

    I wonder is Martin now of the opinion that those who organised a certain parade in Derry are responsible for the murders that occurred there?

  • Catcher in the Rye

    The reality is more basic than that, it is just the continuation of current republican campaign of demonizing the PUL community,

    You wouldn’t consider any of your contributions to be about demonising republicans at all ? No ?

  • Catcher in the Rye

    You started out by saying “let’s not make it a big thing”.

    I’m not entirely convinced that unionists would lose votes in the long run for taking a sane position on parades.

  • Redstar2014

    He quite possibly has changed his position and does believe so. Any things possible when you continually double speak and more importantly read the script prepared for you

  • chrisjones2

    …not for the 9 officers it isnt

  • chrisjones2

    …but what kind of spade? there are many types of spades for different types of work and you can start off with one type and beat it into a different type on the anvil of experience, expedience and the realization that to quote Einstein

    “The definition of Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

    And perhaps all the money, status , kudos and old age help

  • I think it has become all about demonizing the PUL community. The simple reason is that Sinn Fein have pretty much given up on a United Ireland. They can’t get enough people onside with Republicanism and Nationalism, so they try to undermine Unionism. This denies Unionists a majority because of more votes for Alliance and Green. A bunch of self loathing small u unionists returning Alliance and Green representatives reduces Unionist influence. I assume this is better than nothing from the position of Sinn Fein. It makes them sell outs to the Republican cause, but a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

  • chrisjones2

    From BBC News

    Fr Martin Magill, said some residents he had spoken to had felt hemmed in “they feel they were pushed around they feel the whole police operation has really angered them and frustrated them”.

    Dear Father – I am sure that you mean well but this was an illegal parade deliberately organised in a way that it was automatically illegal and likely to be stopped by the Police. If ‘local residents’ were pushed around or angered and frustrated it was perhaps the people rioting in their area who were doing the pushing and making them frustrated and angry while the cops tried to stop them breaking the law.

  • murdockp

    or another way of looking at there are no political parties out there offering progressive politics that will change their lives for the better, they have stopped voting for the establishment

  • murdockp

    The saddest part for me is most of the kids were born after the GFA.
    I think this shows it hasn’t worked.

  • murdockp

    At the start of this this thread, MMcG was eating sausage rolls with the queen, now he is eating T bone steaks…. what next champagne and caviar and a line of cocaine?
    Everyone forgets that you have to dance with the devil in order to affect change, Michael Collins did it, Nelson Mandela did it, even Ghandi had to do it.
    The reason these people are called Sstatesmen is they founded and created states, MMcG deserves a break, I am no SF supporter, even less so the SDLP but MMcG is saying and taking the right approach to secure his long term All Ireland objective, the rest of the population as just too angry and short-sighted to see what is happening.

  • Redstar2014

    Fair point Murdock, certainly for many including younger voters SF are rightly seen as very much part of the establishment. Hard to believe they used to consider themselves a revolutionary party!!!

  • Redstar2014

    It depends what you mean by ” worked”

    The objective of the PIRA surrendering, SF giving up on unity and accepting an internal solution in return for a piecemeal ” equality” agenda firmly within the UK sweetened with cushy numbers for themselves and their kin seems to have worked very well.

    Indeed the British must have thought all their Xmases had came at once when the Shinners rolled over so easily.

    Now as the middle aged leckys try to rewrite their acceptance of British rule as some sort of victory more young Republicans are beginning to see the reality of what they really accepted and the line that they now follow as set by their paymasters.

  • Zeno

    I think there is a history of any Unionist doing anything that appeases Nationalists losing votes and support starting with O Neil.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    I think it has become all about demonizing the PUL community.

    Can you please explain what exactly you mean by “demonising the PUL community” ?

    A bunch of self loathing small u unionists returning Alliance and Green representatives reduces Unionist influence.

    Exactly whose fault is it that some unionists cannot bring themselves to vote for unionist parties ?

    Exactly what is “Unionist influence” and in what way is it being diminished ?

    Forgive me for asking what seem like silly questions but I’m hearing these claims a lot and I don’t know if they mean something tangible rather than people unthinkingly repeating the same mantra they heard from somewhere else.

  • Zeno

    This must be a mistake, Sinn Fein don’t engage in the “Politics of Condemnation” ……. or maybe they just apply that to their own.

  • james

    In fairness, the marchers are demanding the impossible. Would be very difficult for the powers that be to cease a practice that they have already ceased decades previously. Once again, I’m reminded of Citizen Smith.