Meeting with the Secretary of State

In todays meeting with the Secretary of State myself and SDLP colleagues made it very clear that parades must not politicised. We told the Secretary of State very firmly that the unionist proposal for a new Commission would undermine local dialogue, the Parades Commission and the courts and this must not be allowed to happen.

It is clear to the SDLP that any new Commission to explore community relations in Ardoyne would bypass the good work done by the churches and other community groups. The SDLP have always advocated local dialogue as the way forward to ensuring a peaceful marching season.

The unionist proposed Commission has the potential to send community relations back 15 years. The Parades Commission is the lawful and independent body tasked with making determinations on parading and while the SDLP might not always agree with those determinations we always accept them and always urge others to do so too.

There is an urgency now for the resumption of all-party talks. A vacuum must not be allowed to develop. The SDLP have consistently said that the British and Irish governments must fully engage in the talks process and we repeated this message to the Secretary of State today.

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