Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 25 October 2014

DebateNI home of Northern Ireland politics

Top loyalist and republican agree only talking will resolve parades dispute

Nigel Dodds MP with Orange supporters pictured on the Woodvale Road in Belfast afternoon during a protest march up to the police lines. Order members have continued to hold protests in the area throughout the week. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Nigel Dodds MP with Orange supporters pictured on the Woodvale Road in Belfast afternoon during a protest march up to the police lines. Order members have continued to hold protests in the area throughout the week. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

In Saturday's sun, the Woodvale Road had a completely different feel to it. Again, there was none of the tension of the Twelfth – and for the second week running we watched a march and peaceful protest meet with that police operation at the stop line drawn in the determination of the Parades Commission. There, the bands played music and the crowd clapped and cheered, and it all happened as it had the previous week with a sense of everyone knowing what was expected of the other.

A PSNI officer I chatted to spoke of reduced resources, meaning the police numbers had been pruned.

At the weekend, Winston Irvine tweeted a photograph of Saturday's crowd with the words: "Loyalist community showing they are in this for the long run if need be."

And, in a later tweet, he wrote, what he again makes clear in this newspaper today: "I will talk to anyone to get the issue resolved."

Both Irvine and the republican Sean Murray were involved in pre-Twelfth talks on this march and the senior Sinn Fein figure argues more dialogue is needed:

"There's no magic formula. The only way to resolve these issues is talking.

"So let's get together to explore any possibility of a resolution to all outstanding disputes because they are small in number. It goes beyond parading," acknowledged Murray. "The allegation of cultural apartheid – they need to explain what they mean by that, and that can be part of the process."

Yesterday eight years ago, the IRA formally ended its armed campaign – but we still have battles over marching.

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