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Statement by Peter Robinson (DUP) about the flag protests, (4 January 2013)

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Text: Peter Robinson ... Page compiled: Martin Melaugh

Statement by Peter Robinson, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Paty (DUP), about the flag protests, (4 January 2013)


"Since the decision was taken to remove the Union flag from Belfast City Hall I have consistently, and frequently, indicated that it was ill-considered and provocative.  In December I said in a joint statement issued with Mike Nesbitt that it remained our view that the cause was best served by moving beyond protest and to a political solution.  While people are entitled to lawfully and peacefully protest there can be absolutely no justification for issuing threats, acts of violence and terror or other unlawful behaviour. 

The violence and destruction visited on the PSNI is a disgrace, criminally wrong and cannot be justified.  Those responsible are doing a grave disservice to the cause they claim to espouse and are playing into the hands of those dissident groups who would seek to exploit every opportunity to further their terror aims.

    It will be enough for any unionist to know the organisers of the protest movement are not to be heeded when they hear them refer to the police as the “terrorist PSNI” and describe police officers as “Nazis”.  This is language borrowed from the republican handbook.

All right-thinking unionists will want to channel their energies into political activity and to support the cause of finding political solutions to the problems that we face.  In Northern Ireland the ballot box has primacy and is the only vehicle for choosing the people’s representatives.

Many genuine people were outraged by the City Council decision and were in the beginning prepared to express their anger by protesting but it is clear that alternative political routes are available and a continuation of the protests has no role in changing the bad decision that was taken.

The real purpose of those who claim to speak for some of the  organisers of the protests is fast becoming clear.  Their attacks on the DUP expose their real target.  It is not about the flag, the Alliance Party, Sinn Fein or the erosion of culture it is a straight-forward politically motivated attempt to undermine the DUP as the voice of unionism despite our attempts to oppose the removal of the Union Flag in Belfast.

    But now that those politically motivated spokespersons, who are to the fore in attacking the DUP and other fellow unionists, have admitted that their real goal is to replace our locally accountable devolved institution with Direct Rule we can see the total bankruptcy of their thoughts.

Some of these individuals have a track record of attacking fellow unionists at every opportunity.  This is the Direct Rule that unionists, who lived under it previously, always referred to as “Dublin Rule” because of the joint manner with which decisions were taken by London and Dublin under Direct Rule.

This is the Direct Rule that left unionism powerless and put Sinn Fein in the driving seat with a Dublin government fighting the nationalist case while the British government remained neutral.   Let these so-called "leaders" set out their case as to how Direct Rule will get the flag back or aid the unionist cause.

Let them explain to the people the benefit of Water Charging and higher Regional Rates which would automatically follow Direct Rule.  And are they content to have Westminster impose same sex marriages and abortion on demand on our community?  Such folly.  Have they so quickly forgotten the decisions of direct rule in the past?”


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