DUP reject parade pressure

Justice Minister David Ford
Justice Minister David Ford

The DUP has responded to pressure from Justice Minister David Ford for talks on resolving parading issues by saying it is “not fixated on logistics”.

Speaking at his party’s ruling council in Newcastle in recent days, Mr Ford said that 12 days had passed since First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness agreed to hold all-party talks on parades, flags and the past; and promised to deliver a paper on the issues within 48 hours.

“Yet so far no details whatsoever on the arrangements for these meetings have been given to the parties,” Mr Ford said.

“There are meant to be two periods of intensive talks before the start of July, but there has so far been a total lack of urgency coming from the First and Deputy First Ministers.”

Since there have been no public developments “then it suggests the will is not there”, he added.

Asked about the timing of talks, after an announcement about the Open Championship at Royal Portrush yesterday, Mr Robinson said that they “could take place anytime” and that it was “just a matter of getting the participants in a room together”.

However, contrary to how some saw his comments, it is understood this did not signal the likelihood of imminent talks. It is understood that the DUP is not keen on a “hothouse” format and instead sees progress being made in meetings of the main party leaders.

Sinn Fein raising objections to a previously non-controversial Orange parade in Dungiven is being seen by the DUP as making progress more difficult.

A DUP spokesman said: “The DUP is not fixated on logistics, but is focused on resolution of the issues in question.”

Orange Order chaplain Mervyn Gibson yesterday agreed that it was “more important to get it right rather than focusing on the timing”.