Belfast Telegraph

Clegg issues appeal on parades

Violence during the loyalist marching season would undermine positive coverage generated for Northern Ireland by the G8 summit, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has warned.

The conference of world leaders at Lough Erne in Fermanagh was one of the most peaceful in recent years - only two arrests despite a massive security presence costing millions of pounds.

The region's loyal order marching season begins now in earnest against the backdrop of a history of sectarian trouble but amid renewed efforts to promote dialogue between nationalist and unionist communities and the police.

Mr Clegg said following a meeting in Londonderry: "Anyone who is thinking of doing anything that during the parades would lead to disruption and violence must consider that they would be sullying the optimism and that sense of positive purpose which is clearly very much reflecting the majority will of the community.

"I think not least because of the very positive events of the past week, it would be a great shame if that were to be undermined by events in the weeks to come." He addressed a press conference following a meeting of the British Irish Council which focused on the economy, bringing down energy prices and youth unemployment.

Northern Ireland's senior politicians have appealed for peace on the streets this summer, with one of the first contentious Orange Order marches of the summer due to be held through Belfast on Friday night.

Stormont's First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness have urged marginalised, interface communities not to let sectarian tension spill over into violence.

Mr Robinson said: "As we move into the main parading season, we want to ensure that we build on our recent successes and that nothing happens to undermine Northern Ireland's international reputation or deters potential investors. It is in the interests of everyone in Northern Ireland that respect and tolerance are displayed to ensure a peaceful summer."

Mr McGuinness said calm heads were required over the coming months.

He added: "We want to see a society which is strengthened by its diversity, where cultural expression is celebrated and embraced and where everyone can live, learn, work and socialise free from prejudice, hate and intolerance."

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