Belfast Council backs anti-sectarianism rally


Belfast City Council has passed a motion calling for a public demonstration against sectarianism in the centre of the city on August 2nd.

At the meeting late last night, councillors explained they were showing civic guidance in addressing the issue.

Sinn Féin proposed the motion which was amended by the Ulster Unionist Party before being passed by 20 votes to nine. Members of the Democratic Unionist Party did not support the motion.

Belfast Lord Mayor, Mr Alex Maskey of Sinn Fein, said the result showed the council was facing up to its responsibility to tackle sectarianism.

However, Mr Sammy Wilson of the DUP said the motion was aimed at covering up republican involvement in street violence.

Last night it also emerged tonight that the Northern Ireland Office has convened a meeting of the Assembly parties to discuss the problem of sectarian clashes along the interfaces in Belfast.

The Government confirmed that Northern Ireland Office Minister Mr Des Browne had contacted political parties at Stormont about the meeting.

A spokeswoman said the initiative followed a commitment from the Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid in the House of Commons on Wednesday to hold talks with local representatives "in an effort to develop partnership structures at a local level which will prevent the kind of disturbances recently seen in North and East Belfast".