Statement by TUV leader Jim Allister:
“I have been contacted by many people in the Unionist community who have expressed their disgust at the fact that the Culture Minister, Carol Cullan, has attended a number of protests against Loyal Order parades in Belfast. Not unreasonably there is an expectation that a Culture Minister would be expected to respect expressions of culture, regardless of what her personal opinion of that culture is.
“I therefore took the opportunity presented by a statement on Building a United Community to invite the First Minister to comment on Cullan’s behaviour.
“I am disappointed but not surprised that Mr Robinson is so beholden to Sinn Fein/IRA that he declined to do so.
“Mr Robinson could, indeed should, have reminded the Minister of her responsibility to help build a united community by showing a bit of respect to people walking to and from their place of worship. The fact that he chose not to do so graphically illustrates just how reluctant the DUP are to do or say anything which might annoy Sinn Fein.”
Note to editors
The exchange between Mr Allister and Mr Robinson in the Assembly this morning is reproduced below:
Mr Allister: The First Minister, in his statement, refers to the Executive’s vision of:
“A community strengthened by its diversity, in which cultural expression is celebrated and embraced … free from prejudice, hate and intolerance.”
He also told us:
“every Minister has committed to the delivery of the strategy.”
How can that be squared with the performance of the Culture Minister, who, in recent weeks, led protests against expressions of unionist culture?
Has the First Minister any comment to make about her behaviour?
Mr P Robinson: The Member wants to stretch me beyond the scope of the statement. Every Minister must answer for their behaviour and how consistent it is with the agreements of the Executive. The Executive have very clearly recognised that the way forward for Northern Ireland is one where we each show respect for the other’s traditions, where we have an understanding of the difficulties and the angle of vision that people may have from their community, and where there is a wider level of tolerance. That has to be the way forward. I encourage the Member in the same way that I encourage every other Member: if we all are in tune with those criteria we will have a very peaceful parading season and a very peaceful Northern Ireland. That will allow us to be able to meet one of the two criteria that we want to achieve, namely the establishment of a shared community, the other one being economy prosperity for our people.