Ulster Unionist representative Councillor Mark Cosgrove has expressed his surprise and disappointment following comments made by Carrick Hill Residents Group spokesperson Frank Dempsey in a television interview on Friday night, after Republicans attacked an entirely peaceful Tour of the North parade.
Councillor Cosgrove said:
“Whilst the focus is quite rightly on the antics of Sinn Fein Policing Board representative Gerry Kelly and Sinn Fein Executive Minister Caral Ni Chuilin at Friday night’s Tour of the North parade, the comments of the Carrick Hill Residents spokesperson Frank Dempsey must not go un-challenged.
"I was very disturbed to hear Mr Dempsey angrily say that “this community is disgusted with the parades commission for the fact that they’ve issued two more determinations for parades to allow Orangemen to come down there playing hymns”.
"This is the same Mr Dempsey who suggested after the Twelfth of July last year that it was about showing ‘Respect for St Patricks’. There then followed face to face discussions between the Clergy, residents/parishioners, the Orange Order and Community workers which culminated in several parades including Friday nights Tour playing hymns past that place of worship.
"Fast forward to Mr Dempsey on Friday night and suddenly the community “is disgusted” at the idea of a parade playing hymns. These very public comments have made it significantly more difficult for discussions to take place between the Carrick Hill Residents and the Parading Community.
"He has stated over and over again that he has no problems with parades on Donegall Street but the issue is one of respect for St Patricks. Yet now that issue has been comprehensively addressed on many occasions, Mr Dempsey says the community are “disgusted”.
"Right thinking people, from all traditions in Northern Ireland will now be thinking what exactly is “disgusting” about playing the same music outside a church that is played inside it.
"The Ulster Unionist Party has been involved in dialogue with all stakeholders in society for many years through trying to do what’s right for Northern Ireland but even I, as a centre ground Unionist who works on a cross community basis every day, was surprised and disappointed at the comments from Mr Dempsey.”