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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 May 2007, 17:47 GMT 18:47 UK
Parades chairman meets ministers
Mr Ashdown met First Minister Ian Paisley
Mr Ashdown met First Minister Ian Paisley
Lord Ashdown, chairman of the new body set up to review parades in Northern Ireland, has met separately with Martin McGuinness and Ian Paisley at Stormont.

The first meeting of the new body took place on Tuesday. It is not expected to report until next year.

It was Lord Ashdown's first visit to Northern Ireland since he was named chairman of the parades body.

He said there was nothing strange about holding separate discussions with the first and deputy first ministers.

"I think it's perfectly normal and perfectly proper, it's exactly what would happen under any normal circumstances," said Lord Ashdown.

Mr McGuinness said both he and Mr Paisley were pleased that Lord Ashdown was in Northern Ireland.

"We think that he's now about to embark on very, very important work," Mr McGuinness said.

Mr Ashdown held a separate meeting with Martin McGuinness
Mr Ashdown held a separate meeting with Martin McGuinness

"I think he'll be supported by good people who have got the interests of the entire community at heart."

Following the review body meeting, Mr Ashdown said: "We have a lot to do to build on the progress that has already been made and the Parades Commission continues to be the final arbiter on parades.

"We have already received a draft research paper on the attitudes of key stakeholders to the parading issue and we will publish that in due course.

"We will soon be placing a public advert seeking views that will help inform the review."

Lord Ashdown, the former Liberal Democrats leader was raised in Northern Ireland, and later served there as a British soldier - a fact which led to criticism of his appointment by Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams.

Review

The review team, which is to report in 2008, includes nationalists and unionists.

The DUP had criticised the appointment of prominent republican Sean Murray of the Springfield Residents Action Group, but Mr Murray said that for the review to work "all perspectives needed aired".

OTHER REVIEW TEAM MEMBERS
  • Sammy Douglas - Belfast Interface Group
  • Mervyn Gibson - Orange Order Chaplain Lodge of Ireland
  • Sean Murray - Springfield Residents' Group
  • Geraldine McAteer- West Belfast Partnership
  • Garvan O'Doherty - Londonderry businessman
  • Mervyn Rankin, former chief executive of Ballymena council
  • The government promised an independent review of parading in the St Andrews Agreement last October.

    The remit of the review team is to make recommendations on how parading can be taken forward in a way "consistent with the shared future objectives of respect, tolerance, responsible citizenship and promoting equality of opportunity and human rights".




    VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
    Lord Ashdown and Martin McGuinness on the meeting



    SEE ALSO
    Parades appointment is 'helpful'
    19 Apr 07 |  Northern Ireland
    Ashdown to head parading review
    18 Apr 07 |  Northern Ireland

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