Northern Ireland

North Belfast riots: Martin McGuinness blames bigotry

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Media captionPeter Robinson: "The issues will only be resolved on the basis of there being mutual respect"

NI Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has blamed "a terrible display of bigotry and sectarianism" for recent violence in north Belfast.

Mr McGuinness and First Minister Peter Robinson are holding talks to discuss how to resolve parading disputes which have triggered three nights of trouble.

The violence has been centred on the Carlisle Circus area.

Mr McGuinness warned those involved were "sowing the seeds of further conflict".

"People need to abide by the rule of law," he said.

"The Parades Commission is a lawfully instituted organisation that was put there because of the difficulties that existed with contentious parades in different parts of the north.

"If people are not prepared to abide by those determinations, then what they're effectively doing is sowing the seeds of further conflict within our society and I think they're making a big mistake."

He added that politicans had to show leadership to try to resolve the issues causing the trouble.

"If you're in a position of political leadership, you actually have to lead - that means leading from the front, not leading from behind," he said.

Mr McGuinness and Mr Robinson are meeting north Belfast politicians and others - including an Orange Order delegation - at Stormont as a first step towards trying to find a solution.

Earlier, Mr Robinson condemned those involved in the violence.

He said proposals the DUP and Sinn Fein put forward two years ago held the key to a new era of parading.

'Step back'

He had faced criticism for failing to make a public statement in response to the violence.

"There are undoubtedly very high tensions in north Belfast and indeed in other parts of the province," he said.

"My role is to ensure that we don't add to those difficulties by things that are said and done.

"Perhaps if everybody took a step back and said a lot less we might be in a lot better position to resolve some of these issues.

"But they will only be resolved on the basis of there being mutual respect; respect for the rights of people to parade and respect from those who are parading for the communities in which they are parading."

He said people could make their own judgements about engaging in civil disobedience, but it should always be an alternative to violence not something that leads to violence.

Mr Robinson said he wanted to see the end of the Parades Commission.

He was, however, encouraged to hear that residents of the Catholic Carrick Hill area did not want to see parades rerouted and banned.

Meanwhile, 13 members of the clergy are currently taking part in a prayer vigil at Carlisle Circus.

They are appealing for calm on Wednesday evening.

The three nights of trouble started on Sunday after a republican parade close to Carlisle Circus.

At the end of the month, there will be a loyalist parade to mark the 100th anniversary of the Ulster Covenant.

The police have said politicians must sort out the situation, politicians have said they are doing all they can.

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