PSNI 'must uphold parades rulings'

The police must uphold both the letter and the spirit of Parades Commission determinations until new legislation is passed, Mark Durkan has said.

The SDLP leader was speaking ahead of a meeting with the parades body on Thursday.

It will also hold a meeting with the Irish Government on the marching issue.

It follows violence after a loyalist parade in the Ardoyne area of north Belfast on 12 July.

On Wednesday, a senior police officer said the powers of the Parades Commission should be strengthened to avoid a repeat of violent clashes on the Twelfth of July.

Deputy Chief Constable Paul Leighton said concerns about the commission's powers had been raised with the secretary of state, Paul Murphy.

Speaking ahead of the meetings, Mr Durkan said: "The deputy chief constable, Paul Leighton, has now backed our call for new legislation strengthening the powers of the Parades Commission.

"That is welcome, but it is not enough. The police also have to make clear that until that new legislation is passed, they will uphold both the letter and the spirit of Parades Commission determinations. Only then will they be seen to uphold the commission, and not undermine it."

Mr Durkan said the party would be stressing "that the secretary of state cannot wash his hands of the current crisis".

"He has to affirm the work of the commission, instead of allowing the NIO brief against it. He also has to make clear that the Parades Commission is not going. Rather, new legislation to strengthen its powers over supporters is coming."

He said at the Dublin meeting the party would be seeking the Irish Government's support for its position on parades.

The government-appointed Parades Commission was set up in 1997 to make decisions on whether controversial parades should be restricted.

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