Gerry Adams calls for talks to resolve tensions

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

The Orange Order and republican politicians should hold talks on the small number of parades that are still linked to tension in Northern Ireland, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said today.

Mr Adams condemned violence orchestrated by dissident republicans in north Belfast where around 20 police officers were injured and where at the height of the disturbances a live round was fired at security forces.

In one of the worst nights of violence in recent years there were also clashes with police in areas including Armagh, Londonderry and the village of Rasharkin, Co Antrim, as the Orange Order marked the height of its marching season.

Mr Adams said the vast majority of 2,000 to 3,000 loyal order parades held throughout each year passed off peacefully and he said talks should take place between his party and the Orange Order to resolve problems that remained at a small number of locations.

The Sinn Fein leader said: "Let's get all of this in proportion, there were about 100 parades yesterday, there are 3,000 Orange parades annually, there are about six contentious parades and last night's disturbances, whether in Ardoyne or in Armagh or in Rasharkin, involved a very, very small minority of people... being exploited by some of these so-called dissident groups.

"But let's look at the big picture in terms of what it used to be like and what it's now like.

"What happened last night is wrong. It's reprehensible. And all of us who are leaders, and I include the Orange leadership, have a duty to look at how these disturbances occur.

"There was a very peaceful demonstration organised both on the outward and the inward legs of last night's parade, so there is no support in Ardoyne for this parade going down this route - the only people who want to go that way are the Orange.

"And I would appeal to them in terms of these six or seven contested parades to talk, or not to go in. Why not have their Orangefest celebrations without... playing into the hands of these small groups."

Mr Adams said Orange Order leaders should remove their refusal to hold talks with elected Sinn Fein politicians.

"My biggest frustration is that thus far the Orange Order has contributed nothing to the peace process.

"The Orange Order still refuses to talk to Sinn Fein... even though Martin McGuinness is the deputy First Minister, even though there are a number of Sinn Fein ministers, even though unlike them we have a mandate which we renew at every election.

"They talk about being a Christian organisation, about neighbourliness, and I don't dissent from any of that and I don't say any of this to undermine the good decent people who were involved in the Orange, but why on earth can't they come forward and meet us."

Mr Adams told the BBC that he had met Orange Order members in Portadown who are linked to the long-running Drumcree parades dispute, but he said the leadership of the Order still refused to deal with his party.

Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) Culture Minister, Nelson McCausland, said marchers spoke to residents in the Ardoyne area and community leaders in a local parades forum.

He also said the Order had made strides in rebranding the July 12 parades as Orangefest as part of efforts to create a more family friendly and inclusive atmosphere.

In a break with tradition, city centre shops opened in Belfast for a period yesterday, as normal routines were maintained while accommodating parades in the morning and early evening.

Nationalists have complained over the route taken by some marches through areas that are predominantly Catholic, or in the case of Ardoyne, past a sectarian interface. They have criticised aspects of the Orange Order and wider loyalist element to the marching season, including the scale of some loyalist bonfires on July 11 and the presence of anti-Catholic slogans.

But Mr McCausland said the major issue was the scale and ferocity of last night's dissident violence.

"If someone makes sectarian comments no matter who it is or where, I don't condone that in any way," he said.

"I think the focus should certainly be not only on some comments here or there and you can find comments in every community across Northern Ireland, it is far from a perfect society.

"What we do have is a situation this morning is where we are looking at a legacy last night of guns or guns being used, vehicles being burned and people being attacked, attacks on policemen and those are things that are appalling and indefensible."

Dissidents republicans were blamed for the confrontations in Ardoyne where nationalists attacked police lines after crowds gathered ahead of the return parade by Orangemen from their July 12 demonstrations.

Petrol bombs, fireworks, stones and bottles were hurled at police, who used water cannons and fired 18 baton rounds to fend off attackers.

Two vans were hijacked and pushed at police lines.

In Londonderry there were disturbances that saw 11 petrol bombs thrown and one police officer injured.

There was also trouble in Rasharkin, County Antrim and Armagh city, while security forces also had to deal with hoax bomb alerts in Strabane, Co Tyrone, and in Lurgan, Co Armagh.

Police assistant chief constable Alistair Finlay said: "They displayed the worst possible face of Northern Ireland - a face of bigotry, sectarianism and intolerance that is not representative of the vast majority of people who have moved on and embraced a peaceful future."

In Rasharkin, officers sustained minor injuries when they were struck by stones and bricks by youths in the village.

Petrol bombs were hurled. One man was arrested.

There were disturbances during the return leg of the Twelfth parade in Londonderry and violence in the Butcher's Gate area where one policeman sustained an injury.

Police came under attack with petrol bombs and paint during disturbances in Armagh following a security alert at Friary Road in which a minor explosion occurred.

Four people have been arrested for public order offences following a number of minor disturbances.

At least two cars were also stolen and set alight on Friary Road.



* This article is from The Belfast Telegraph

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor