Tensions flare after meeting over Apprentice Boys parade

A FRESH row has erupted over a forthcoming Apprentice Boys feeder parade in Belfast, less than 24 hours after loyalists met with Sinn Fein.

In a statement to the News Letter last night, the North and West Belfast Parades and Cultural Forum (NWBPCF) said they expect the annual Apprentice Boys of Derry (ABOD) parade on Saturday August 14 to take place as normal.

Earlier, a delegation led by Gerry Adams and Gerry Kelly voiced their objections to the Parades Commission before accusing the parades forum (NWBPCF] of creating a "dialogue vacuum".

In response, the forum said: "This particular parade has been described and accepted as an exemplary display of conduct and behaviour by both the parades commission and the PSNI in previous years."

They called on the commission to "resist any temptation to scapegoat or punish the Apprentice Boys for the actions and behaviours of others" – a clear reference to the violence at Ardoyne on July 12.

Winston Irvine from the forum dismissed claims by Sinn Fein that the forum was responsible for creating a "vacuum" as "a nonsense".

He said: "We wish to make it clear and place on public record that the forum has been in discussion with the CARA (residents'] group as recently as last week, discussing matters relating to the parade.

"We will also be making a written submission to the parades commission in relation to the ABOD parade".

Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly said the forum had pulled out of talks with residents in June over the feeder parade which passes through the areas of Mountainview, Ardoyne and the Dales.

"The situation is further exacerbated by the presence of the Shankill Star Flute band - dedicated to Brian Robinson, a UVF member who murdered Paddy McKenna on the route that this parade proposes to take and where members of the family still live," said Mr Kelly.

"Forcing this feeder parade down will make things worse."

"The main parade is in Derry and I would argue that the Apprentice Boys go directly to that parade and commence dialogue with the residents of the area, CARA, as soon as possible thereafter."