You are viewing the content for Monday 27 February 2006

Violence unacceptable, says McAleese

By Paul O’Brien, Political Reporter
PRESIDENT Mary McAleese led the condemnation of the riots, saying the violence was both unnecessary and "totally unacceptable".

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said there was no excuse for what had unfolded.

"It is the essence of Irish democracy and republicanism that people are allowed express their views freely and in a peaceful manner. People who wantonly attack gardaí and property have no respect for their fellow citizens."

The loyalist march was intended to remember victims of republican violence. Members of the Orange Order were set to take part.

Tánaiste Mary Harney said: "The Orange Order is clearly a sectarian organisation, but it should be allowed to make its protest in a peaceful way. The disgraceful actions of a few have left many, many innocent parties in Dublin injured or with their property damaged."

Justice Minister Michael McDowell said the event was a setback to reconciliation in the North.

"If that parade had gone forward, I believe the people of the orange and loyalist persuasion in Northern Ireland would have seen symbolically a demonstration which showed that this society is extending the kind of hand of friendship towards them that the President and [her husband] Dr Martin McAleese, the Taoiseach and the Government, have consistently worked for."

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams said: "Sinn Féin had appealed to people to ignore this parade and not to be provoked by it. Regrettably, a small, unrepresentative group chose to ignore our appeal. Their actions were entirely wrong and reprehensible."

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said the rioters’ actions were an attack on free speech and democracy.

Labour leader Pat Rabbitte also condemned the violence, but expressed surprise that the gardaí seemed ill-prepared to deal with it.

The Green Party called for an inquiry into how gardaí prepared for the event.