DUP appeal on marching season
DUP appeal on marching season

An appeal for calm at interface areas this summer by unionist leaders has been widely welcomed.

The PSNI police are also said to be preparing a crackdown on indications of paramilitary allegiance as efforts continue to defuse potentially combustible tensions over the Protestant marching season.

Hundreds of unionist/loyalist marches take place across the Six Counties in the summer months, some passing through areas where nationalist residents view them as sectarian and triumphalist.

The MPs for east and north Belfast, Peter Robinson and Nigel Dodds, urged everyone on Wednesday to do all in their power to prevent a “vicious circle of violence”.

The statement was welcomed by both Irish Prime Minister, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams.

Mr Adams said: “It is important that this sentiment is acted upon at all levels of our community. A peaceful summer would also make a significant contribution to rebuilding confidence in the political process.”

In a joint statement Mr Robinson and Mr Dodds said that over recent years, north and east Belfast had witnessed some of the worst of the disturbances over the summer months.

They said that as MPs for the areas, they were urging calm as what is traditionally the most dangerous period of the year approaches.

“There is nothing to be gained for the unionist community by being drawn into activities which threaten lives and livelihoods,” they said.

“In past years, situations have spiralled out of control to an extent where trouble became a daily occurrence and many people lived in constant fear. There continues to be a level of intimidation and attacks in certain interface areas. We must do all in our power to prevent this vicious circle of violence.”

Mr Ahern said it was a “very encouraging” development: “I commend all of the work that is being done by community leaders to create and maintain a climate of calm over the summer period. Today’s statement is a strong endorsement of the value of that work.”

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