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PSNI talks on parades trouble to cost £26k

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Rioters clash with police after an Orange march in Ardoyne on July 12

Rioters clash with police after an Orange march in Ardoyne on July 12

Museums dedicated to the Orange Order are opening in Belfast and Armagh

Museums dedicated to the Orange Order are opening in Belfast and Armagh

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Rioters clash with police after an Orange march in Ardoyne on July 12

Crunch talks involving the PSNI to prevent trouble over the marching season will cost around £26,000, it has been revealed.

The two days of intensive talks organised by the police will be held in a four star Cardiff hotel.

They will involve 34 people including six senior police officers, political leaders and unelected community representatives.

The private talks — to be paid for by the PSNI and NIO — come against a backdrop of loyalist protests and rioting over Belfast City Council's decision to restrict the Union flag’s flying at City Hall.

Officers, however, have said the talks are not intended to resolve issues like flags and parades.

The agenda will include police tactics during public disorder and house searches as well as their response to the flag protests.

Assistant Chief Constable George Hamilton said: “We are not trying to shape politics, we are not trying to get the big fixes around parades and flags. It is really important that we understand the feelings of people in communities. That is largely what this weekend is about.

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“Our judgment along with the facilitators was to get away from this place to a more neutral venue with less distractions to give people the space and time to have private and forthright conversations.”

Mr Hamilton admitted that in working class loyalist and republican areas there is a “big job” to do to gain people’s confidence.

But he denied that police were pandering to dissatisfied loyalists and republicans in communities where street violence can be turned on and off.

“We are not going with any sort of heavy-handed message, but we are not going to the discussions to be dictated to,” he added.


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