Leaders meet British PM on N Ireland tensions

2014-07-02 19:29
(File, AFP)

(File, AFP)

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London - Republican leaders Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness were meeting British Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday for talks on resolving lingering tensions in Northern Ireland, 16 years after a landmark peace deal.

The meeting comes alongside six days of talks in Belfast on three "toxic" issues between the province's Catholics and Protestants - the flying of flags, sectarian parades and dealing with Northern Ireland's troubled past.

In 1998, a historic peace deal was signed in Northern Ireland between Protestant unionists, who want to remain part of the United Kingdom, and Catholic republicans, who want it to join the Republic of Ireland, after 30 years of unrest known as "The Troubles".

But violence has flared periodically ever since, particularly around traditional summer parades held by unionists.

'The pressure is on'

The biggest of these takes place on 12 July, the anniversary of English Protestant king William III's victory over his Catholic rival and predecessor James II at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.

Before meeting Cameron in London, McGuinness, Northern Ireland's Sinn Fein deputy first minister, wrote on Twitter: "His (Cameron's) Govt can't sit back. He too has a role to play in Peacemaking!"

The talks in the House of Commons in London will be the first time Cameron has held a direct meeting with Adams and McGuinness since taking power in 2010, Sinn Fein says.

They come six months after lengthy negotiations chaired by Richard Haass, the former US special envoy to Northern Ireland, ended with no agreement.

Arriving for the Belfast negotiations, Sinn Fein's chief negotiator Gerry Kelly said: "These three toxic issues need sorted out and we have a chance of doing that. The pressure's on and the pressure should be on."

Read more on:    david cameron  |  uk  |  northern ireland  |  ireland
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