A VETERAN SDLP politician has branded this weekend’s IRA commemoration parade through Castlederg as “totally insensitive”.
West Tyrone MLA Joe Byrne said the parade comes just days before the relatives of the Omagh bomb atrocity victims prepare for the 15th anniversary of the Real IRA bomb attack which killed 29 people and two unborn children.
And he called on the First Minister and deputy first minister to intervene to “resolve this current matter”
He made his comments as it was revealed that the Secretary of State Theresa Villiers is to cut short compassionate leave to deal with the parading crisis in Castlederg.
Her father George died last month and she was not due back at work for another few weeks.
However, she is now due to hold telephone discussions PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott, Justice Minister David Ford and the UUP leader Mike Nesbitt later on Wednesday before returning to work by the end of the week.
In a statement Joe Byrne MLA said: “The SDLP does not support this parade in Castlederg as the party does not and has never supported marches or parades that commemorate or glorify violence or paramilitarism.
“This particular march at a time which coincides with the fifteenth anniversary of the Omagh bomb is totally insensitive given that so many families have suffered because of paramilitary violence in the past.
“The SDLP believe that people have the right to express their views but that with that right there is a responsibility to behave in a sensitive and respectful way.
“That is why the SDLP support the need for the Parades Commission or a similar body to provide adjudication on contentious parades and the necessity for everyone to abide by their rulings.
“Given the grave concerns that are developing over the Castlederg parade that is scheduled to take place on the 11th August, sensible people are asking for political intervention at the highest level to deal with the issue.
“Given that First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuiness have both spoken on this matter, it is now imperative that all political influence must be used to de-escalate the potential situation.
“As an MLA for West Tyrone and a Castlederg native, I am asking Peter Robinson and Martin McGuiness to have meaningful discussions with the appropriate people to help conclude a satisfactory solution to this issue.
“Given that the First Minister and Deputy First Minister have worked closely on many matters, the good people of Castlederg would appreciate them putting all their efforts into helping resolve this issue.
“Castlederg has enjoyed improving community relations in recent years, and many people have contributed to this process.
“The current discussion around the proposed commemoration parade has the potential to undo all the good cross-community progress that has been achieved.
“The recent Tyrone fleadh in Castlederg was a tremendous success, and all sections of the community participated and enjoyed the festival atmosphere.”
Mr Byrne added: “Over all the years of the Troubles there have been many deaths and families who have suffered great pain. Contentious issues like parades have often increased community tension and added to that pain.
“For the sake of all the suffering families in the Castlederg area I think it is now essential that the full weight of the office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister is utilised to help resolve the current matter.”