Sinn Féin and the DUP have reacted angrily to Police Service of Northern Ireland claims that more political leadership is needed ahead of contentious marches this summer, the Irish Times reports.
PSNI assistant chief constable Alistair Finlay said elected representatives should “step up their efforts and fully play their part to ensure that the summer passes off as peacefully as possible”.
“Politicians, from our MPs, Stormont ministers, MLAs and local councilors, need to do everything in their power to facilitate solutions around parades and protests that benefit the whole community; encourage greater community cohesion; and help drive forward a peaceful society for everyone.”
However, Stormont ministers Nelson McCausland and Gerry Kelly criticized the senior police officer. McCausland, the DUP culture minister, said the PSNI’s comments were “ill-informed and ill-considered."
Kelly, a junior minister, said he was surprised by what Finlay had said and pressed him to name the representatives he accuses of not doing enough to maintain calm on the streets.
McCausland said he could contact politicians by phoning them or asking for a meeting.
“There is no need for megaphone diplomacy via the radio and television,” he said.
He said the DUP had been “working to resolve problems around parades and protests for many years, long before before Mr Finlay arrived [from Scotland], and we continue to do so.”
Meanwhile Dawn Purvis, who has resigned the leadership of the Progressive Unionist Party, has called for an end to intimidation in the Shankill area following the murder of loyalist Bobby Moffett.
He was shot dead by two men last week. Police are understood to be examining the possibility that the killers were linked to the Ulster Volunteer Force, which is on ceasefire and last year announced it had decommissioned its weapons.
There were unconfirmed reports yesterday that warnings had been circulated to people not to attend Moffett’s funeral. Moffett is to be buried tomorrow and tensions are rising in the area in advance of his funeral. Purvis, whose party is aligned with the UVF, condemned any intimidation of Shankill residents who have protested against the murder and have held peace vigils in the area.
In a statement, the East Belfast Assembly member Purvis said: "I make this decision with a very heavy heart. I believe the Progressive Unionist Party was founded by individuals who had a real vision for Northern Ireland and a positive and important contribution to make to politics and the peace process in this country. I have been honored to be a part of that."
"However, I can no longer offer leadership to a political party which is expected to answer for the indefensible actions of others." Purvis added she would continue as an MLA for East Belfast.