Commenting on the withdrawal of the DUP and UUP from the political talks on parades, flags and the past Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Foreign Affairs Brendan Smith stated that “Unionists are avoiding their responsibilities as elected officials and undermining the rule of law”. He further added that it underscored the need for the Irish and British Governments to “roll up their sleeves and have a hands-on approach to the issues that are impeding further progress in building on the peace process”.
Deputy Smith said, “The lack of initial engagement by the DUP in the political talks did not bode well for a successful outcome. However the complete withdrawal by both Unionist parties on the grounds of a Parades Commission decision is a disgraceful failure of elected politicians to live up to their responsibilities. This type of reckless action only adds to tension within communities during this volatile period.
“The collapse of the talks only a day after starting and postponement of the North South meeting is a bitter disappointment to those of us who want to see progress in the stalled peace process. It should act as a firm wake up call to the Irish and British governments who have been sleeping on the job as co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement. It’s time for them to roll up their selves and have hands on approach to reviving the Haass talks.
“The marching season can be a turbulent time in Northern Ireland and the prospect of heightened tension and widespread disruption damages the image that Northern Ireland is trying to achieve globally, that of a successful, prosperous and welcoming area. The images of Ku Klux Klan flags and politicians undermining the legal decision by an independent Parades Body is a reminder that we cannot allow the very welcome progress of the past 16 years to be eroded. The Haass proposals must be brought to a successful conclusion. The two sovereign governments need to drive this process and all political parties involved in the talks honour their responsibilities”, Deputy Smith concluded.