In the Assembly on Monday, the SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell complained to the Speaker that I had broken the Ministerial Code of Conduct and violated the Ministerial Pledge of Office. In order to continue their narrow petty political point scoring game the SDLP is now trying to collect enough MLAs' signatures to move a no-confidence motion about me in the Assembly. They need 30 MLAs. The SDLP want to misrepresent what I said for the sake of a few moments of publicity, which in the end will be of no benefit to them or the people they say they represent.
I have not broken the Ministerial Code of Conduct or the Pledge of Office and I totally refute any suggestion to the contrary. Anyone who has read the transcript of what I actually said will already know that. Any public comments that I have made in the past or will make in the future do not need to be interpreted by the SDLP. I continue to support and uphold the rule of law ... not the version as determined by the narrow sectarian agenda of the SDLP.
I remain focused on working with all sections of the community to deliver a long term solution to the problems of North Belfast. Whether it be socially, economically or politically I and my colleagues are first and foremost interested in building a community in North Belfast that is both peaceful and prosperous.
Sectarian behaviour and violence have no place in our society. They are wrong and must always be condemned. If we are to build a shared future, it must be built on mutual respect and tolerance. That is what I am working to achieve across the community of North Belfast. Regulations will not solve our problems but relationships can. That is why I welcome the statements by the Loyal Orders in relation to the events outside St Patrick's Church in Donegal Street. They demonstrated maturity and have undoubtedly helped to create a better atmosphere.
Such maturity is sadly lacking from the new SDLP leadership of today. Their stance on the right to exercise peaceful protest is in reality an attack on the position of the founding fathers of the SDLP, demonstrates the immaturity of their thinking and is a total repudiation of such renowned world figures as Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi. After all, the SDLP evolved from the civil rights parades and protests of the late 1960s.