British PM meets republican leaders on N. Ireland tensions

2nd July 2014, Comments 0 comments

Irish republican leaders Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness met British Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday to resolve lingering tensions in Northern Ireland, 16 years after a landmark peace deal.

The meeting came 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.

Adams warned that the peace process was currently in a "state of stagnation".

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, known as the marching season.

The biggest of these takes place on July 12, 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.

After meeting Cameron, Sinn Fein president Adams called on the British prime minister to show leadership on the issue.

"We made the point to him (Cameron) that he is not fulfilling his obligations in terms of the Good Friday Agreement, that the process is in a state of stagnation at this time," he added.

Adams also warned that the marching season looked like a "potential disaster".

The talks in the House of Commons come six months after lengthy negotiations chaired by Richard Haass, the former US special envoy to Northern Ireland, ended with no agreement.

© 2014 AFP

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