Published Wednesday, 05 September 2012
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First Minister Peter Robinson and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness met with local representatives, the Orange Order and politicians at Stormont Castle on Wednesday, to talk about the disorder which first broke out at a flashpoint during a republican march on Sunday afternoon.
More than 60 police officers were injured in three consecutive nights of trouble in the Carlisle Circus area. Mr Robinson said there was a common desire to see an immediate end to the violence.
"If there is goodwill I believe we can overcome the differences and I appeal to those people in north Belfast and some of those who come from beyond that we have peace on the streets and we allow normality to resume," he said.
Mr Robinson condemned the disorder, and added that he and Mr McGuinness are due to meet with PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott on Thursday.
"We recognise the very difficult position that the police are put into in these very trying circumstances and we particularly are mindful of those police officers who have been injured and our thoughts are with them as well."
We are very encouraged by the determination of all those who attended today’s meeting to work together to agree a way forward. All agreed that there is no place for violence.
First and deputy First Ministers
Orange Order representatives were also at the meeting in a bid to resolve the parades issue in north Belfast ahead of the Ulster Covenant centenary parade later this month.
In a joint statement, the First and deputy First Ministers said: "We will be chairing a further series of meetings in the coming days with the aim of reaching a successful resolution ahead of the march on the 29th September. Beyond that we will be resuming efforts to find an agreed approach to dealing with all contentious parades."
SDLP North Belfast MLA Alban Maginness said work must be done to resolve issues around further marches.
"There was a general will to tackle the overall issue of contentious parades after the 29th of September. I believe that this meeting was a very worthwhile meeting but there's an awful lot more work to be done and I think that work has to be done very urgently," he commented.
Unionists had called for the scrapping of the Parades Commission after it placed restrictions on a loyalist band that played a song alleged to be sectarian outside a Catholic church in Belfast in July.
But Mr McGuinness said the commission must have absolute respect to put a stop to the "unacceptable violence."
"I think that we've seen a terrible display of bigotry and sectarianism and that needs to be brought to an end," he explained.
"I believe that everybody - loyal orders, unionist politicians, republican politicians, even if they don't like some of the determinations that the Parades Commission make - have got a duty to abide by those determinations.
"Failure to do so sends a very clear signal that people are not prepared to abide by the rule of law."
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