FIRST MINISTER: SWORD WIELDING RIOTERS SHOULD BE IN JAIL

ACC Will Kerr with a police helmet which was dented with a ceremonial sword

ACC Will Kerr with a police helmet which was dented with a ceremonial sword

DUP leader Peter Robinson has said that people who attack police with ceremonial swords should be in prison.

The First Minister told a special sitting of the Stormont Assembly on Tuesday that there was no excuse for the violence which has marred parts of Northern Ireland over the past four nights.

Addressing MLAs, he said: “I honestly do not believe that anybody in this society can condemn or condone on the issue of violence in our society.

“It has dogged our community for generations and it must come to an end.”

“The one message that this community will be waiting to hear from this Assembly is condemnation of violence, a requirement for people to stand by the rule of law.

“I don’t think that anybody who takes a ceremonial sword to the head of a police officer can honestly find anywhere more suitable to be than in prison.

“There is no excuse for anybody carrying out what was an attempt to murder or seriously injure a police officer.”

The Assembly has been recalled to debate a DUP motion which said efforts to build a shared future had been harmed by the decision to ban Protestant Orangemen from marching on a contested stretch of road in north Belfast on 12 July.

Mr Robinson said the Parades Commission – the adjudicating body set up in 1998 to rule on contentious marches – had got it wrong.

DUP leader Peter Robinson says there is no excuse for trying to kill a police officer

DUP leader Peter Robinson says there is no excuse for trying to kill a police officer

He added: “The Parades Commission took their decision for political reasons. They have an agenda and that agenda is that first of all they want the Orange Institution to engage with them.

“They want the Orange Institution to engage with local residents and they will take their decisions to further their agenda as opposed to what is right or wrong in a particular set of circumstances of any parade.

“I think the Parades Commission got it completely wrong. I don’t believe that the Parades Commission have the respect or credibility in the community to continue in being.”

The DUP motion also calls for respect for the law and for “tolerance to be shown for everyone’s cultural identity”.

Mr Robinson encouraged everyone to engage with Dr Richard Haass, who will arrive in Northern Ireland this week to chair the all-party working group set up to agree an alternative to the Parades Commission.

Tabling an amendment Gerry Kelly, Sinn Féin MLA for north Belfast, claimed the perception that republicans were engaged in a cultural war against loyalism was ill-informed.

He said: “I am not up for sectarianism or racism no matter where it comes from. Whether it is the nationalist side, the unionist side or anywhere else.

“I am not up for holy statues appearing on bonfires, I am not up for effigies of working priests – people who were very well respected – being part of that if that could be described as culture, or anti-Catholic songs being played outside Catholic chapels or indeed any anti-religious song outside any place of worship.”

The Alliance Party and Basil McCrea’s NI21 party are to back the Sinn Fein motion.

However, the amendment was defeated by 44 votes to 41.

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