DUP leader plays down fears over parade

Gavin Robinson on The View
Gavin Robinson appeared on BBC NI's The View on Thursday night [BBC]

The Democratic Unionist Party leader Gavin Robinson has played down fears that the breakdown of a parade agreement in north Belfast could lead to disorder on the streets.

He said he did not detect an “appetite” for trouble and hoped a resolution could be found.

The deal which ended violence around the 12 July parade in the Ardoyne area collapsed earlier this month, and talks to maintain the 2016 agreement have broken down.

Speaking on the BBC NI programme The View, Mr Robinson said he had not been engaged personally on the issue but local party colleagues had been involved.

“We’ll see what comes in the days to come, but I am pleased that there does not seem to be an appetite or a desire to escalate this in a way that we’ve sadly seen in the past," he said.

“I think it’s important to have cool and calm heads on this issue rather than trying to be provocative about it.”

Mr Robinson said he understood the "frustration" of Orange Order lodges in the area.

The order has applied to march past Ardoyne shops on the evening of 12 July.

Crumlin Ardoyne Residents Association (Cara) has applied for a protest involving 100 people at the same time.

The Parades Commission will rule on the matter in two weeks’ time, with the police monitoring developments closely.

DUP 'would represent entire community'

In the last General Election in 2019, the DUP won eight seats in Northern Ireland, more than any other party.

Since then Sinn Féin has won more seats than the DUP in Assembly and local government elections, and some predict it could now come out on top in a Westminster election.

Mr Robinson accepted that could happen but he said it would be to the detriment of Northern Ireland if MPs were elected who did not take their seats.

He claimed that DUP MPs would represent “the entire community” if elected to the House of Commons.

Mr Robinson was also asked about the redevelopment of Casement Park stadium in west Belfast.

Hopes that it will be rebuilt in time to host matches the Euro 2028 soccer tournament are fading due to a financial shortfall of well over £100m.

Communities Minister Gordon Lyons of the DUP oversees sport in Northern Ireland.

Casement Park: UK government to blame

His party leader defended the minister's handling of the issue and rejected suggestions that he could and should have done more to ensure Casement Park is redeveloped

Mr Robinson blamed the London government.

He said: “The UK government have not responded with anything meaningful when it comes to a financial contribution to Casement.”

He added: “I think the opportunity to have the Euros in Northern Ireland would be a good thing.”

In next month’s election, more than 130 candidates are running across the 18 Westminster constituencies in Northern Ireland.

The exact size of the electorate has not yet been confirmed.

The deadline for applications to join the electoral register has now passed.

General Election 2024 graphic