Belfast Telegraph

Senior PSNI officer hopeful for peaceful marching season

BY CHRIS KILPATRICK

There is no reason to believe the forthcoming marching season will be marred by widespread trouble, a senior police officer has said.

Ahead of a contentious parade in north Belfast this evening, PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Alistair Finlay said he believed improved and ongoing discussions between police, community groups and the Orange Order would prove key to preventing violence on the streets this summer.

"I don't think we can predict that we will have a difficult marching season," Mr Finlay said.

"There has been lots of positivity and dialogue. The talks have taken place in Cardiff and lots of different groups are coming together.

"That dialogue is continuing so there isn't any reason why we will have a difficult marching season."

Mr Finlay's comments came after the Orange Order hit out at the Parades Commission.

The order criticised the commission following determinations placed on the Tour of the North parade. Yesterday a spokesman for the united districts committee described the restrictions as "vindictive and Draconian".

"Many hours and days have been spent in genuine efforts to address the issue of respect as articulated by the clergy and parishioners of St Patrick's Roman Catholic Church in Donegall Street in the wake of talks last year," said the spokesman.

He added: "However, the silence in response to the comprehensive template suggested by the Orange Institution is deafening."

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