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Keep peace, community chiefs urged

Published 08/06/2015

Martin McGuinness has said he is hopeful that peaceful solutions can be found
Martin McGuinness has said he is hopeful that peaceful solutions can be found

Community leaders should use their influence to keep the peace during this year's marching season, Martin McGuinness has said.

The Deputy First Minister claimed potentially volatile disputes over contentious parades could be resolved if key players engage with each other.

Speaking during Question Time at the Assembly, he said: "We are all very conscious that we are facing into a very difficult situation this year again in north Belfast, and I would appeal to everybody to use their influence to encourage people to get round the table to seek resolutions.

"I think if people do that then resolutions can be found."

Last year the parading season passed off relatively peacefully.

However, last month, a senior police officer warned that the PSNI was braced for a challenging summer.

One of the largest parades, which could set the tone for the season, is expected to take place in north Belfast this weekend.

Around 750 people including 17 loyalist bands are to take part in the event marking the 700 days since Orangemen from three Ligoniel lodges were prevented from marching on a contested stretch of the Crumlin Road past the nationalist Ardoyne area.

In 2013 loyalists rioted for a number of successive nights after the procession was stopped.

In previous years, republicans engaged in serious disorder in Ardoyne when the Parades Commission permitted the Orangemen to complete their return journey.

Loyalists have manned a protest camp close to the Ardoyne/Twaddell Avenue interface since July 2013, costing around £15 million to police.

Meanwhile, DUP MLA Tom Buchanan called for the Deputy First Minister to discourage Sinn Fein members from protesting against "legitimate" parades.

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