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16 October 2014
BBC NI - Eyewitness

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Political Voices - Nigel Dodds is a Democratic Unionist Party MLA and MP for north Belfast Nigel Dodds

The issue is a much wider issue, about concerns that people have in the Upper Ardoyne community about attacks on homes, about the fact that they can't get their kids down to the library in the Ardoyne, to the playground. There's a problem with pensioners getting to lift their pension. All these issues which need to be talked through and discussed, and only at the very eleventh minute, or the fifty-ninth minute of the eleventh hour, was any sort of discussion which was meaningful, could even begin. And even then there weren't the people there who needed to be there. And I think that what needs to happen now is that we need to ensure that we don't have a repeat of the situation this morning, where we have police going in, in the way that they did. And clearly anything in terms of children is a terrible situation, but the reality is that we had leading republicans who are well known, coming up that road this morning giving all sorts of abuse and provocation to people. And I think we must not have that situation in coming days. We need to find breathing space where talks can happen and discussions can happen, because as the communities have already said themselves, it's only in that context that we can actually see progress.

Now Alban Maginnis, who is of course an SDLP MLA for north Belfast, issued a specific challenge to you today. He said that he would expect you to disagree with this intolerable situation about the children not being able to get to school, or only being able to get to school with great difficulty. Now he says you have been worryingly quiet about it and he wants to hear you take a lead and come out and condemn what happened this morning, categorically and unequivocally. Are you happy to do that?

Well I think that Alban Maginnis, he hasn't been, as I understand it, involved in any shape or form, while others have been trying to make progress and trying to sort the thing out, needs to realise that the way forward in this is to accept that it's for the communities. It's only by the communities, as they themselves have said, by talking and sitting together - and I have been trying, along with others, to try to get movement going. Nobody in their right mind wants to see a situation in Ardoyne, but people have to recognise that this is not about a simple issue.

I spoke earlier today to Jim Potts, who is a representative of the Ardoyne Concerned Residents Group, and I asked him did he condemn the violence and the threats of the loyalist protestors, and he said he wouldn't. Are you telling me you unreservedly condemn it?

Clearly no violence is justified, but what I want to say is this very clearly - that as far as I understand and am aware and have seen, there was no violence directed towards any children.







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