Page last updated at 13:09 GMT, Friday, 10 July 2009 14:09 UK

Drumcree talks to happen 'soon'

Peter Robinson believes Drumcree talks will happen in the near future
Peter Robinson believes Drumcree talks will happen in the near future

First Minister Peter Robinson believes talks between Portadown Orangemen and nationalist residents over the Drumcree dispute will take place soon.

He was speaking after meeting both sides in separate talks at Stormont Castle.

Mr Robinson said he felt there was "sufficient overlap in their positions" to allow a meeting to take place.

He thought both groups would be content for Parades Commission chairman Rena Shepherd to chair the meeting.

"I think both of them are prepared to sit down with the other," Mr Robinson said.

"There are issues in relation to the agenda which I believe can be sorted out.

"I would hope to talk later today or tomorrow to Mrs Shepherd and hopefully she can advance it from there."

Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition members described their talks with Mr Robinson over the Drumcree dispute as "cordial".

Coalition spokesman Brendan MacCionnaith said Mr Robinson had appeared "open-minded".

He said he had demonstrated he "wasn't going to act as a proxy on behalf of the Orange Order or as a mediator".

"Peter Robinson explained that it had come about as a result of his previous meeting with Portadown District and having met with one side he wanted to hear the views of the other," he said.

"He accepted that there was widespread opposition to the march through the nationalist community in Portadown.

"He is trying to see the views on both sides of this."

This was the first time members of the coalition had met a senior DUP figure.

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