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McGuinness calls for calm on eve of internment march

By Noel McAdam

Published 08/08/2015

Martin McGuinness
Martin McGuinness

Martin McGuinness has appealed for calm as tensions simmer over tomorrow's republican parade through Belfast city centre.

Thousands of republicans along with 14 bands are expected to take part in the march commemorating internment - and three loyalist protests against the march have also been allowed.

The event seems likely to deter Sunday afternoon shoppers but the deputy First Minister said: "People need to remain peaceful."

He also insisted that marchers, spectators and those involved in protests against the demonstration should obey the determination reached by the Parades Commission on the annual event.

The march organisers have said the parade will leave Ardoyne at 2.30pm - an hour after the commission concluded it should be clear of the city centre.

Two years ago the rally - organised by the Anti-Internment League - sparked major violence during which 56 police officers were injured.

Mr McGuinness said: "Under no circumstances should people resort to violence and under no circumstances should people disobey the direction that has been issued by the Parades Commission.

"People have a right to criticise the determination. They also have a duty and a responsibility to abide by it."

The senior Sinn Fein figure added: "There have been determinations that I was uncomfortable with but you can't say one thing and do another."

Mr McGuinness said he had no sense that police intended to take aggressive action.

"As a very senior former policeman [Alan McQuillan] said to the Belfast Telegraph recently it is wrong to demand that people get stuck in.

"Nelson McCausland seems to be calling for brute force to be used. I don't think that is a useful way to proceed and I don't believe those who are in charge of the police today think that is a sensible way to proceed either."

A senior police officer has said he does not believe violence and disorder is "inevitable" and said people have a choice.

DUP MLA Mr McCausland said there must be no two-tier approach to policing parades and protests.

Following a meeting with senior police chiefs, he said: "In previous years, senior police officers have been very open in advance of loyal order parades to say that they will enforce the Parades Commission determination. I trust they will be similarly robust when it comes to policing this dissident republican parade."

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