Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly says 'we'll block an inquiry into march in Ardoyne'

By Claire Williamson

Sinn Fein has told the Secretary of State it will not co-operate with any inquiry into the Ardoyne parades dispute.

It comes after the party and the SDLP held separate talks with Theresa Villiers.

The proposal for a commission of inquiry into contentious marches at the north Belfast interface where violence has erupted for years was first put forward by the Belfast Telegraph in July.

It is believed Ms Villiers plans to go ahead with the inquiry, but both nationalist parties have claimed that would undermine the Parades Commission.

After meeting the Secretary of State, Sinn Fein North Belfast MLA Gerry Kelly said it would be "wrong to reward an ultimatum" by granting unionists an inquiry and added he was "absolutely opposed" it.

"If Theresa Villiers wants to encourage dialogue on parading, the last thing she should do is to reward unionist, loyalist and Orange negativity and intransigence by giving in to their ultimatum for an inquiry into parading in north Belfast," he said.

"The Parades Commission is the legally constituted body tasked with the work of adjudicating on contentious parades.

"Experience shows us that the only effective way to resolve these issues is through a process of meaningful dialogue. It would be entirely counter-productive for the British Government to reward this negativity."

SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell said he believed preliminary discussions for all-party talks covering other divisive issues would get under way within a couple of weeks. Ms Villiers may make an announcement on Sunday at the Tory conference in Birmingham.

Unionists and the Orange Order backed a parades inquiry after the Parades Commission restricted a July 12 parade past the Ardoyne shops for the second year in a row. They warned last week that their patience was wearing thin and that they would take action to increase pressure on Ms Villiers to make an announcement.

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