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Police clash with loyalist protestors in Belfast city centre as they attempted to block part of the route the Anti-Internment League parade. Niall Carson/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Call for six-month ban on 'contentious' parades in Northern Ireland

Violent scenes and riots in recent months have led the Police Federation for Northern Ireland to suggest the ban.

A POLICE FEDERATION has made a call for a temporary ban on ‘contentious’ parades in Northern Ireland.

The Police Federation for Northern Ireland – which represents almost 7,000 police officers – has called for the voluntary ban on all contentious parades for the next six months.

Urgent meeting

The federation’s chairman Terry Spence has called on the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Theresa Villiers MP, to convene an urgent meeting of the five main Northern Ireland political parties.

He said that officers are “working around the clock and are fatigued”.

Spence said Villiers should insist the parties persuade the loyal orders, republican organisations and various protest groups “to suspend all contentious parading and counter demonstrations until Richard Haas [of the Council on Foreign Relations] has completed his remit in seeking solutions to the flags and parading disputes”.

The call comes following a weekend of unrest and violence in Belfast, which was condemned by the chairman of the Parades Commission Peter Osborne. He said the parade violence showed “scenes of unwarranted lawlessness” and that the PSNI officers working showed courage.

“Since July last year over 500 officers have been injured; 64 over the course of last Thursday and Friday night,” pointed out Spence.

He added:

We cannot go on with this rate of attrition when it is clear that the PSNI lacks sufficient resources and mutual aid is proving too clumsy a mechanism to generate the number of properly trained and armed officers needed in sufficient time to maintain law and order.

He said that Northern Ireland needs what he described as a “six month breathing space” to allow constructive political engagement between the parties.

He also said that the police need the break “to rebuild a service properly resourced to deal with the policing realities” and that the injuries being inflicted on his police colleagues “is further evidence of political failure.”

Read: Parades Commission chairman hits out at Belfast riots>

Read: PSNI officers ‘prevented mindless anarchy from spreading’ in Belfast riots>

In pics: Controversial Republican parade passes peacefully in Tyrone>

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