Belfast Telegraph

Talks on Ardoyne parades flashpoint agreed

Republicans and loyalists have agreed to hold talks on resolving the Ardoyne parades flashpoint, Gerry Adams has said.

The Sinn Fein president met representatives of the North and West Belfast Parades Forum at the Assembly.

The meeting followed discussions held in the City Hall in August and there will now be regular meetings ahead of the marching season.

The Hillsborough deal that secured the devolution of policing powers from Westminster earlier this year also provided a vehicle for resolving parades disputes.

And while that element of the agreement has collapsed under opposition from the Orange Order, Mr Adams said the talks he is involved in follow the spirit of what had been envisaged.

"At the core of the deal at Hillsborough, in terms of Orange marches and protests, was the imperative of dialogue, and the imperative of dialogue between those who want to march into communities, and representatives of those host communities," he said.

"So the core principles that we are engaged in here, even though that part of the agreement didn't go ahead, is now being acted upon, thanks to the good offices of the forum and to our own endeavours."

The Ardoyne area was the scene of serious rioting in July in the wake of a loyal order parade and the talks are aimed at finding a resolution.

Mr Adams said it was important to discuss the problems well in advance of the marching season.

The Sinn Fein leader said the meeting at Parliament Buildings was a "frank and honest discussion".

"We have agreed a series of meetings between now and the marching season, with the aim to resolve the serious issues," he said.

Asked if a deal was within reach, he added: "It is too ambitious to say that at this time, but clearly the objective is to make sure that the marching season passes without incident and that the marching season is one which can be based on tolerance and accommodation."

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