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Stormont talks: Ardoyne parade dispute mediators ready to help out

By Michael McHugh

Mediators who helped resolve Northern Ireland's bitterest parading dispute have met the Northern Ireland Secretary as part of a bid to restore power-sharing.

The "constructive" talks involved hugely experienced community figures who helped defuse the Ardoyne flashpoint march, which saw dozens of police officers injured and relations between local residents ruined by sectarian violence.

Jim Roddy was at the forefront of successful negotiations with the Apprentice Boys over its demonstrations in Londonderry, and last year helped the opposing parties in the violent north Belfast impasse reach agreement.

Ardoyne Catholic priest Father Gary Donegan was another key player in ensuring 2016's march passed off peacefully.

A statement from their Making It Work Group said: "We held a candid and constructive meeting with the Secretary of State today to discuss community issues relevant to the ongoing talks process. We have agreed to meet with him again over the course of the next three weeks and wished him, Minister Flanagan and all the parties every success during their deliberations."

Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire and Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan are attempting to piece together the devolved administration and face a three-week deadline before another Stormont election is called.

Mr Brokenshire met the Making It Work Group for "candid" talks at Stormont yesterday.

The organisation comprises Mr Roddy, Fr Donegan, Ryan Feeney from Queen's University, who has a background in community relations with the GAA, and colleague Professor Peter McBride.

Belfast Telegraph

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