Parades row between UUP’s Kelly and McCrea rumbles on

Cookstown UUP councillor Robert Kelly.
Cookstown UUP councillor Robert Kelly.

ULSTER Unionist councillor Robert Kelly has continued in his attack on the DUP and Mid-Ulster MLA Ian McCrea by criticising a statement he made to the MAIL.

Last week both unionists clashed over the issue of contentious parades. Cookstown UUP representative Robert Kelly slammed the DUP and Sinn Fein for the problems he said the parties have created and which came to a head in Belfast two weekends ago.

He also said the DUP was using the parades body as a “scapegoat” and called for more Assembly powers over parades.

Mid-Ulster Assemblyman Ian McCrea hit back at the Ulster Unionist statement and accused the councillor of attempting to “deflect” his own party’s “negotiating failures” onto the DUP.

Hitting back at the MLAs comments, the UUP councillor said in a statement: “Mr McCrea’s comments simply cannot go unchallenged.

“He claimed that the DUP/Sinn Fein proposals following the Hillsborough Agreement ‘received support from Districts and County Lodges right across Northern Ireland, but did not proceed simply because a small element, particularly from within the UUP, preferred to see the Parades Commission remain’.”

“This is most definitely not the case. Having contacted local County Officers I have been assured that they did not support the DUP/Sinn Fein proposals and the notion that a small element ’particularly from within the UUP’ had the power to decide policy for Grand Lodge smacks of paranoia, ascribes a massive level of influence in the Ulster Unionist Party and shows how little regard he has for the members of Grand Lodge to make up their own mind.”

Councillor Kelly continued: “Regarding parading, it is absolutely essential that calm heads prevail and that everyone - political parties, church leaders, the loyal orders, residents groups, the Parades commission and everyone else commit to displaying respect, tolerance and generosity.

“The parades issue must be resolved by dialogue and then we can also focus on issues such as jobs, housing, the health service and education and deliver on these for the people who elect us.”

“Furthermore he says he will not be lectured by me, but as far as that goes there is no call for me to lecture the DUP because the party who they are now happy to share power with are doing a good enough job of dictating the course of things to them. But then again it’s a case of having blinkers on when it comes to Martin and I,” he said in the statement.

“How long is it going to take the DUP to realise that you can fool some of the people, some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people , all of the time. And the only reason the DUP take personal jibes at the UUP is because they know I was telling the truth on these matters, something I will continue to do as long as they continue to ‘DUPe’ the Unionist people into voting and keeping them in power at