LET’S HAVE A PEACEFUL MARCHING SEASON, SAY NI LEADERS

Parades Commission keep restrictions on  Tour of the North parade

Parades Commission keep restrictions on Tour of the North parade

PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott has joined with Northern Ireland’s political leaders to appeal for a violence-free marching season.

The plea has been made hours before the ‘Tour of the North’ parade takes place on Friday night in north Belfast.

First Minister Peter Robinson, deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, Justice Minister David Ford and Mr Baggott issued a joint statement calling for all sides of the community to work towards ensuring events this summer pass off peacefully.

They want the public to build on the positivity created by this week’s G8 summit in Co Fermanagh.

Mr Robinson said: “As we move into the main parading season we want to ensure that we build on our recent successes and that nothing happens to undermine Northern Ireland’s international reputation or deters potential investors.

“It is in the interests of everyone in Northern Ireland that respect and tolerance are displayed to ensure a peaceful summer.”

Mr McGuinness said: “The G8 Summit has surpassed many expectations and I welcome the fact that those who demonstrated did so peacefully and in a responsible fashion.

“That is a lesson which we can learn from as we prepare for the most contentious parades. There is no acceptable level of disorder.

“To those who are thinking of encouraging disorder or may get caught up in it, I have a clear message – it is not wanted and there is no excuse for it.”

Mr Baggott said: “I do not wish to see young people’s futures blighted through getting caught up in violence and the consequences of a criminal record.

“As we approach the most contentious parades I want to repeat that violence is not inevitable if we have responsible leadership, respect for others and willingness to compromise.”

Mr Ford said: “I welcome the efforts of all those who are working to secure a peaceful outcome over the remainder of the parading season. Resolution of contentious parades is possible.

Chief Constable Matt Baggott says he doesn't want to see you people involved in trouble

Chief Constable Matt Baggott says he doesn’t want to see you people involved in trouble

“I hope that those who have influence will continue to show leadership and work with their communities and the police to ease tensions where they exist.”

Up to 1,000 people and 15 loyalist bands are expected to take part in Friday night’s events.

Restrictions were put in place by the Parades Commission on part of the route which passes St Patrick’s church and the nationalist Carrick Hill district in Belfast.

The Commission also imposed restrictions on two local residents groups who will be holding protests on Friday night.

The Orange Order hit out after the ruling was upheld on Wednesday, following a review.

It said: “The Parades Commission are making a mockery of a shared future and by their continued legalising of selective apartheid they are dismantling the framework that was being constructed around a shared city.”

A statement from the commission said there had been “insufficient new evidence upon which to alter its original determinations”.

The parade is expected to set off at 7pm.

 

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