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Tuesday 21 February 2017

Orange order should enter talks on marches - McGuinness

Deric Henderson

Published 14/07/2011 | 16:24

The loyal orders in Northern Ireland have faced new demands to get involved in dialogue in a bid to end the issue of contentious parades.

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Martin McGuinness, the deputy First Minister who met with Peter Robinson in Belfast to discuss the violence which flared in the aftermath of Tuesday's Orange Order marches, said that if the leadership found it difficult at this stage to have talks which included Sinn Fein, then he could see no reason why they could not meet with him and the First Minister.

The time to find a resolution was before Christmas because everyone knew from previous experience the closer they got towards the marching season, the more difficult it was to reach agreement to remove the tension, fear, conflict and violence which happened every mid-July.

The latest violence he said was not on the same scale as previous years, but it should shake some people out of their complacency about the peace process.

He added: "I want to give due credit and praise to all of those within communities who have been very proactively involved in trying to lessen the violence that we anticipated.

"All of those people who think it is a good idea not to talk need to get real and recognise the sort of headlines we are receiving is something that should force and compel them to re-examine their position."

Police made dozens of arrests in the trouble which flared in nationalist areas following the Orange Order marches, especially in the Ardoyne district of north Belfast. The disturbances were not as sustained or as intense as in previous years. Dissident republicans opposed to the peace process were heavily involved. A number of officers were injured, none seriously.

But pressure is being applied again on the Orange Order to engage in a process of discussions to deal with disputed marches. The leadership has already rejected proposals drawn up by the office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister's in an attempt to reach some sort of accommodation to try and keep the streets free of trouble.

Mr Robinson said the trouble had been less intense than previous years, but the people involved had nothing to offer, except damage Northern Ireland's reputation and attempt to drag society backwards.

He added: "As a society I think we have started to get a little careless about how hard won the peace we have had has been. People need to recognise that day and daily. We need to be standing up and ensuring our voices are heard from every section of our community to ensure we maintain the peace and stability we now enjoy."

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