Belfast Telegraph

Adams in Loyalists parades talks

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has held talks with leading loyalists aimed at defusing tensions over controversial parades.

The discussions included the organisers of a march set to pass the Ardoyne area of North Belfast, the scene of serious rioting following an Orange Order parade last month.

After more than two hours of talks in Belfast City Hall, the first between Sinn Fein and the North & West Belfast Parades Forum, including members of the Apprentice Boys marching organisation, both sides reported progress.

Mr Adams said: "I found it a very useful exchange. We listened very, very intently to what our friends had to say about all of these issues and their sense of themselves and their sense of their section of our community in this city of Belfast.

"We are not going to sort all of this out in one meeting, these are big issues, and we have to remind ourselves of where we have all come from and how difficult this process of society building and transition is for everyone." Mr Adams said talks could reconvene in September.

The talks come ahead of a parade planned for later this month by the Apprentice Boys. The July 12 Orange Order parade at Ardoyne was followed by three nights of rioting.

But both sides in the talks said it was not a negotiation on the forthcoming Apprentice Boys parade, but was the beginning of a more long-term discussion.

Forum Member and senior Apprentice Boy Tommy Cheevers echoed Mr Adams's description of the talks as constructive.

"We are ordinary people, we are not well paid, or salaried professionals," he said. "We do it because we live in the community and know how important these things are and want to move forward for our children. The only way we can do that is to create good neighbours...some of those people who have been misbehaving on July 12 certainly don't care one damn about the future."

He declined to comment on whether the Orange Order should take part in talks.

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