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Gerry Adams urges talks with loyal orders

Northern Ireland's loyal orders must enter talks with Sinn Fein in a bid to avert further trouble during the marching season, Gerry Adams has said.

The republican leader appealed for the Protestant groups to engage with his party as the organisers of protests at the scene of serious rioting over the Twelfth of July period signalled their intention to demonstrate again next month.

Two weeks ago, a residents' group from the nationalist Ardoyne area of north Belfast staged a sit down protest on the Crumlin Road in an effort to illegally block Orangemen walking past the notorious flashpoint on the traditional Protestant day of commemorations.

While members of the Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (GARC) were removed by police and the Orange parade passed as planned, serious rioting broke out in the area afterwards and continued for three nights in a row, injuring scores of police officers.

The group's plan to hold a similar protest ahead of a march by a different loyal order - the Apprentice Boys - through Ardoyne on August 14 has raised the spectre of renewed dissident republican violence.

While Apprentice Boys in north Belfast have held talks with mainstream republicans in past years there is no ongoing dialogue ahead of next month's event.

The Orange Order meanwhile has a policy not to engage with Sinn Fein at all. Despite this, members of the Portadown Orange district have met with party representatives in an attempt to resolve the long-running dispute over the parade at Drumcree.

While Sinn Fein has heavily condemned those involved in the sit down protest and the rioting that followed, the party has also accused the loyal orders of "obstinate insistence" on walking through nationalist areas.

Earlier this year, Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionists agreed a blueprint for changing the way contentious parades were managed, but the Orange Order has rejected the proposals outright.

Senior north Belfast Apprentice Boy Tommy Cheevers said he made numerous efforts to engage with republicans to resolve the issue in past years but each time they refused to compromise.A spokesman for the Orange Order said the leadership had "absolutely no plans" to meet Mr Adams.


From Belfast Telegraph