Ahern hopeful of peaceful 'Love Ulster' parade

The Irish Government hopes this weekend’s "Love Ulster" parade will pass off peacefully, Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern said today.

Unionist politicians, Orangemen, loyalist bands and victims of IRA violence plan to march through Dublin city centre on Saturday.

Before meeting Parades Commission chairman Roger Poole in Dublin today, Mr Ahern said: “The Irish Government doesn’t have a particular attitude towards the parade.

“It’s a free country. We hope it passes off peacefully like many of the parades in Northern Ireland and doesn’t lead to difficulties for the public.”

Mr Ahern also expressed the Government’s general support for the work of the Parades Commission and stressed that issues surrounding all contentious parades can be resolved through patient dialogue.

“It is a key priority of the Government in making progress towards a stable future in Northern Ireland,” he added.

“Contentious parades can have a very damaging effect on tourism, the economy and people’s lives in general. It is important that everybody, including political leaders, acts responsibly and makes every effort to reduce tensions.”

Mr Ahern remarked that the vast majority of uncontested parades in Northern Ireland pass off peacefully, like in Derry, which he said offers a very positive example.

It was the first meeting in Dublin between Mr Ahern and Mr Poole.

A former trade unionist, Mr Poole was appointed chairman of the Parades Commission in December.

Set up in 1997, the body makes decisions on whether or not restrictions should be imposed on controversial parades during Northern Ireland’s marching season.


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