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Tánaiste calls for immediate end to violence and intimidation

The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore, T.D., has strongly condemned the return of violence to the streets of Belfast in recent days.

Speaking in the Dáil this evening, he called for an immediate end to the intimidation of public representatives, in particular those of the Alliance party and their families.

He also condemned last night’s petrol bomb attack on a female member of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, and described the recent wave of violence as “an attack on democracy itself that has no place in the politics of this island”.

Earlier today the Tánaiste spoke with Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Theresa Villiers, about the situation on the ground. He has also discussed the ongoing violence with David Ford, the Alliance Party Leader and Minister for Justice in the Northern Ireland Executive, and the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, in recent days.

The Tánaiste said: “The scenes of violence and intimidation remind us of the need for steady support for the peace process. This Government continues to stand together with the people of Northern Ireland to make sure that they never again suffer through violent conflict. We condemn the outbreaks of violence on the streets of Belfast and the attacks on members of the Alliance Party and on the PSNI.

“The parties in Northern Ireland must learn to resolve issues around flags and symbols in a respectful and consensual way, as we work towards a society based on respect for difference, and tolerance for the traditions and multiple identities on this island,” he continued.

The Tánaiste also noted that ongoing violence is causing disruption to business and community life, especially businesses in Belfast in the last weeks before Christmas.

“Now is the moment for responsible political leadership and we must all be conscious that our interventions should seek to calm rather than inflame tensions.

"Northern Ireland has developed a justified reputation for dynamism, underlined by the opening of flagship visitor attractions at the Giants Causeway and the Titanic Quarter, the hosting of the Irish Open at Portrush and the awarding of City of Culture to Derry. 

"The Irish Government will continue to do all in its power to protect these gains and build on them,  and to support the political leaders in Northern Ireland as they work to move beyond these tensions," he added.