Statement on Belfast violence
8 April 2021
Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Brexit, Northern Ireland and Justice
Responding to the violence in Belfast, Labour Party Northern Ireland spokesperson Brendan Howlin said genuine grievances impacting Unionists must be addressed but called on leaders to calm tensions and seek to address issues through dialogue.
Deputy Howlin said:
“The ongoing violence and rioting in parts of Northern Ireland is a very worrying situation and I would add my voice to appeals for it to end. We need political leaders to work together now to defuse tensions, condemn violence, and ensure that attacks on police and public services cease.
“There are genuine issues that we need to resolve, not see exploited. For example, difficulties with the Northern Ireland protocol can and must be addressed, but this remains the least worst outcome from Brexit that we sought to address over four years.
“There is obviously a deep hurt within unionism that needs leadership at this point. Leadership that will ensure their genuine grievances are resolved through legitimate legal means.
“Our appeal must now be to those voices who have a true influence in unionism to calm tensions right now and ensure those grievances are addressed through the legitimate structures and dialogue.
“I am not sure how influential or impactful any commentary from either Irish or British politicians based outside Northern Ireland can be but there is still a responsibility on the rest of us to ensure those grievances are addressed in the most practical way possible.
“It is deeply concerning to all of us who worked for so long to secure a lasting peace to see violence return and so we must seek out solutions, together in dialogue.”