The Northern Ireland Conservatives’ chairman, Irwin Armstrong, has warned that violence in the run up to the marching season demonstrates divisions in our society are not being effectively addressed by politicians.
“Why, more than 13 years after the Belfast Agreement was signed, are we still witnessing serious disorder on the streets, with riots already occurring this summer in East Belfast, Craigavon, Ballyclare, Larne, Carrickfergus and elsewhere?”, Irwin asked.
“Ultimately these problems must be traced to the top and a deficit of political leadership. Although a form of power-sharing is taking place at Stormont, too little is being done to address sectarian divisions which still disfigure our communities”.
“Last year the Executive produced a Cohesion, Sharing and Integration strategy document which actually threatened to entrench segregation rather than tackle it. If truth be told the DUP and Sinn Féin, who developed the strategy, simply ‘don’t get’ sharing. Indeed party leaders on both sides appear not to have moved on and they’re failing abjectly to build a peaceful and functional society here”.
“When the Prime Minister, David Cameron, visited Northern Ireland last month he emphasised the need to deliver a ‘shared future rather than a shared out future’. That’s the challenge for our politicians and it’s one the current parties at Stormont are failing to meet. Until they step up to the plate divisions in our community will remain and all associated misery and problems will persist”.