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Unionist and loyalist leaders have clashed after the Parades Commission banned an Orange march through the Catholic Ardoyne area of Belfast. Photo by: Laura Hutton / Photocall Ireland

Fears of major street violence in Northern Ireland after Orange march is banned

\"Unionist

Unionist and loyalist leaders have clashed after the Parades Commission banned an Orange march through the Catholic Ardoyne area of Belfast. Photo by: Laura Hutton / Photocall Ireland

Verbal clashes between Sinn Fein and leading Unionist and loyalist parties have fueled fears for the annual Twelfth of July parades next Saturday.

Leaders on both sides of the political divide have clashed after the Parades Commission banned an Orange march through the Catholic Ardoyne area of Belfast.

Loyalist rioting followed a similar ban last year and the Irish Times reports that concern is growing for the potential for serious unrest next weekend.

The paper says relationships between the nationalist and loyalist communities are strained after the ban was announced.

And Sinn Fein has clashed with the DUP, accusing the loyalist party of being ‘led by the UVF and Orange Order’ in its response to the decision.

The DUP has criticized the Parades Commission’s decision not to allow Orangemen to pass a flashpoint at Ardoyne on their return home from the main Twelfth parade.

Sinn Fein’s Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has attacked DUP leader Peter Robinson, Northern Ireland’s First Minister, over the stance.

The report says McGuinness said Robinson was ‘not in a position to take decisions’ because of pressure from such elements.

McGuinness also accused unionist leaders of a failure of leadership.

He said: “They have thrown in their lot with those who would attempt to foment conflict on the streets.”

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams has also entered the debate and has called on the British and Irish governments to intervene and ‘stabilize’ the volatile political situation as the Twelfth approaches.

Robinson, Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt and loyalist paramilitary representatives met senior Orange figures in Friday to discuss their next move.

Orange Grand Master Edward Stevenson said: “We will continue purposeful dialogue within the Orange family and wider pro-union community over the coming days and will outline our response in due course.

“Although there is much anger at the latest restriction on our legitimate cultural expression and traditions, I would once again reiterate the institution’s call for any protest to be lawful and peaceful.”

Earlier Unionist leaders walked out of inter-party talks at Stormont on flags and parades after the announcement of the Parades Commission decision.

They also withdrew from Friday’s planned North-South talks at Dublin Castle. Stormont Minister for Justice David Ford has said he fears fresh violence is ‘inevitable’ if large unionist protests take to the streets.  

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