Page last updated at 15:52 GMT, Monday, 27 October 2008

Protest 'is recipe for disaster'

Belfast skyline

Plans to allow a Sinn Féin protest parade during an armed forces homecoming is a "recipe for disaster", First Minister Peter Robinson has said.

The DUP leader said the Parades Commission could not justify its decision to allow next Sunday's event.

He accused Sinn Féin of being reckless and said it made it hard for people to envisage how policing and justice powers could be devolved.

The Parades Commission has imposed a number of conditions on the protest.

Mr Robinson told the Northern Ireland Affairs Select Committee at Stormont the protest was an indication that some people in Sinn Féin had not pulled themselves into a new era and were not prepared to allow people to welcome troops back into the community after putting their lives on the line.

He claimed Sinn Féin wanted the MoD to "run away" from having the parade at all, an outcome which he said would be "an absolute disaster".

He added that Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde had responsibilities and could yet step in.

Last week, the Parades Commission said, in a statement, it wanted to accommodate the parade and "a legitimate protest in a way which ensures that peace is maintained".

"Sinn Féin's willingness to co-operate and engage with the commission and the PSNI has been a positive contribution to the planning for the event.

"In the same way the MoD has shown a willingness to plan their event in a sensitive manner.

"As a result of discussions, they have made a small alteration to their route and have brought the time of their parade forward."


SEE ALSO
Army chaplain opposed to parade
27 Oct 08 |  Foyle and West
Conditions on homecoming protest
24 Oct 08 |  Northern Ireland
Party defends homecoming protest
17 Oct 08 |  Northern Ireland
Council backs armed forces event
22 Aug 08 |  Northern Ireland

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