Private NI parades talks in Wales

Published Thursday, 09 May 2013
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Northern Ireland politicians are to be invited to private talks in Cardiff next week, in a new attempt to ease sectarian tensions on the streets of Belfast.

Private NI parades talks in Wales
Rioters at Ardoyne in North Belfast after the 12th of July parades last year. (© Pacemaker)

Police have confirmed that meetings will take place next weekend.

Members of the region's main political parties have been asked to attend, as well as community and church representatives, University of Ulster academics, and members of the PUP.

Security chiefs are increasingly worried about the prospect of further violence in the coming months, linked to disputed parades close to loyalist and nationalist interface areas.

Serious trouble erupted in Belfast over Christmas and the New Year after the city council's decision to restrict the flying of the Union flags to designated days.

Journalist and author Brian Rowan said it is hoped the talks would bring people together.

"Not in a negotiation, but in what was supposed to be an off-stage and away from here discussion," he explained.

It's being described to me as a stock-taking exercise, trying to establish lines of communication and talking about the difficulties that still exist around parading and policing, and other issues.

Brian Rowan

The Police Service of Northern Ireland said they would be meeting with key stakeholders in Cardiff to discuss a range of issues in relation to policing in Belfast.

A statement added: "The attendee list has not yet been finalised.

"As a police service, we believe it is important that we listen to the views expressed by our stakeholders and the community. We also want to ensure constructive lines of engagement are established and remain open."

But as news of the talks hit the headlines, Rowan said there are fears it could frighten some people away.

He added: "One concern expressed to me by one source is that it could become a media circus and that those talking in private now will be happening in a fishbowl."

A spokesman for the Progressive Unionist Party, the political wing of the paramilitary Ulster Volunteer Force, confirmed they had been invited to attend, but have yet to make a decision.

The spokesperson said: "There is a lot of scepticism about what can be achieved in such a short space of time, but it is better than doing nothing. Therefore, I think the space needs to be given for the initiative to take place."

Earlier this year, PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott said senior members of the UVF, acting as individuals, had been increasingly orchestrating the violence which followed flag protests in east Belfast.

Elsewhere, First Minister Peter Robinson and the deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness also announced the setting up of an all-party working group with an independent chairman to discuss flags, parades and how to deal with Northern Ireland's past.

© UTV News
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41 Comments
Mark in London wrote (563 days ago):
The North of Ireland like wales is not represented on the Union flag. England, Ireland and Scotland is.
Sam in Northern Ireland wrote (563 days ago):
i think they should stop all parades protestant and cathloic so then ni can fully move on from the troubles then you wouldnt have this trouble every year. the money wasted on parades could be put into cross community events up the towns instead so everyone could join in together.
Seamas in Beal Feirste wrote (563 days ago):
S.B. in Belfast, your comment is spot on and nothing more needs said on the whole situation except this; "Seb? Don't let us keep you!!!!!".
S.B. in Belfast wrote (564 days ago):
Less of the patronising guff Seb; Ireland has had enough of that, and more, from your side of the water for centuries. The North of Ireland is a British made problem and NOT an Irish problem. Like MOST of the current problems around the globe the North of Ireland is the result of 100's of years of British colonialist terror, land stealing and 'Empire building' largely of the blood and lives of the native peoples. You talk about a waste of British tazpayers money. Well if Britain gave EVERY Irish person North & South a MILLION pounds each it still would't be enough to compensate us for what your country took out of this island materially and in lives. Don't lecture any of us chum!
Seb in London wrote (564 days ago):
I find the complaints re trips to Wales particularly surprising. Many of NI's politicians make weekly trips to Westminster and, frankly, the benefit to NI's citizens are dubious at best from such travels. I agree they shouldn't travel to Wales to resolves problems in NI, but should they have any need to travel to Britain at all for political representation? Cut NI loose and sink or swim. If they don't desire to join the admittedly bankrupt South, then fine, but stop wasting British taxpayers money.
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