Mary Lou McDonald calls for 'enlightened' leadership from Unionists to end violence

Mary Lou McDonald calls for 'enlightened' leadership from Unionists to end violence

Vivienne Clarke

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has called for “enlightened” leadership from Unionists and for them to display “some courage” in supporting their communities which would be equalled by her party.

The Loyalist violence of the past week and “stoked up tensions” and needed to be faced down, she told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.

Ms McDonald said there was a “really sinister” aspect to what had started out as unrest and disorder which had been focused on the “most sensitive and volatile” settings along the Peace Line.

This had been a deliberate attempt to “stoke up maximum tension,” she said. People in the area were very fearful and wanted the protection of the PSNI.

“Every single one of us, irrespective of our political stripe, has an obligation to contribute to a call for calm.”

Ms McDonald said she had met with the Chief Constable on Thursday with whom engagement was ongoing. The police needed to be fully resourced so they could act speedily to protect communities.

Unionists needed to call on those involved in the violence to desist and to “stop things before they get more serious or people are badly injured.”

Power-sharing

There needed to be more engagement from London too, she said and called for intervention from Prime Minister Boris Johnson along with Northern Secretary Brandon Lewis.

The success of the whole peace arrangement relied on strategic cooperation among all the stakeholders, she added. The two governments were pivotal to that.

Ms McDonald said that there was no doubt that Brexit had opened up a whole series of dynamics. Unionist leaders had been the most ardent ‘leave’ supporters despite being warned that Brexit would be bad for the North. The Northern Ireland Protocol was not up for negation she said.

The “bottom line” was that power-sharing had to work and the Good Friday Agreement had to be supported. “We have to bring communities with us.”

It had to be clear that politicians were up to the challenge. Those who would stoke up violence had to be stopped and “called out.”. What had happened on the streets in the past week had been planned, had not been an accident.

Politicians had their role to play and it was time for the Unionist leadership and Loyalists to show enlightened leadership and some courage which would be returned and equalled by Sinn Féin, she said.

The Chief Constable had made it clear to her that the police were not going anywhere and were committed to doing the job at hand that needed to be done. Policing in the North was increasingly challenging and this weekend communities were bracing themselves for a difficult weekend.

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