Secretary of State Announcement on Parades Worthless

Statement by TUV leader Jim Allister:

“Before Christmas Jeffrey Donaldson boasted that the Secretary of State would be making an announcement “in the new year on an initiative to try and move the north Belfast situation forward.”

“Today we got that worthless announcement and it moves us no further forward.

“The talking process proposed by Theresa Villiers will do nothing to get us to a point where the fundamental right of Orangemen in North Belfast to complete their parade is recognised.

“A golden opportunity to put real pressure on the NIO was missed during the pre-Christmas talks when the Unionist parties reneged on their pledge not to discuss parading until the North Belfast situation was resolved.

“We now know that not only does the Stormont House Agreement spell out detailed plans for a new regulatory system via a Parades Commission II but that the secret Stormont Castle Agreement went into greater detail and even included details of the anticipated cost of the new bodies.

“Importantly the Stormont Castle proposals were drawn up not by the Northern Ireland Office but by the parties and then sent to the NIO. Any attempt to suggest that the parading section was sneaked in by civil servants without the DUP’s consent is therefore nonsense.

“The time to secure real concessions on the North Belfast parading issue was sacrificed by those who failed to hold the line in the talks. Today’s announcement by Mrs  Villiers is, quite simply, worthless.”

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