Justice Minister says rights of all should be respected

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Justice Minister says rights of all should be respected

11 October 2013

Justice Minister David Ford has met with business representatives to discuss the impact of the recent disorder on trade in Belfast.

Justice Minister David Ford has met with business representatives to discuss the impact of the recent disorder on trade in Belfast.

During the meeting with the NI Independent Retail Trade Association, the Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce and Pubs of Ulster, the Minister said that while he recognised the right of people to protest peacefully, others, including businesses and the police, also have rights which should be respected.

David Ford said: "During our discussions today it was made clear to me that businesses throughout Belfast have been severely impacted due to recent disorder in the city. I understand their concerns. Businesses are the lifeblood of a vibrant city and they have had to operate in very difficult trading conditions over a sustained period.

"While I recognise the right of people to protest peacefully, in my mind, I am clear that businesses also have the right to trade peacefully just as police officers, who are delivering community policing, have the right to carry out their role free from attack.

"There is no justification for the violence we have witnessed."

David Ford continued: "Belfast has seen many dark times and we should all be proud to see the city it has become in recent years. It is beautiful, vibrant, diverse and has been identified as a must see destination in tourist guides. Indeed, during the World Police and Fire Games, I met people who loved their time in Northern Ireland and were full of praise for the city of Belfast and its people.

Turning to the future, David Ford said: "There will be no easy or simple solution to the issues we face. If Northern Ireland is to move forward we need to work together as a society and tackle underlying issues in order to secure a shared future with tolerance at its heart.

"The Haass talks are the forum through which we need to seek agreement on flags, parades and the past and I am a committed to the process and finding resolution for the sake of everyone, including businesses, in Northern Ireland."