Northern Ireland

PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott attends first Sinn Féin event

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Media captionMr Baggott and other PSNI officers were attending a Sinn Fein-organised event for the first time

Northern Ireland's police chief has said that there needs to be a dialogue about what policing does.

Chief Constable Matt Baggott was addressing delegates to a conference called Belfast: A City of Equals in an Island of Equals.

He said the PSNI was increasingly being dragged into toxic areas such as parades and the past.

Mr Baggott and other PSNI officers were attending a Sinn Féin-organised event for the first time.

Image caption Loyalists protested outside the conference

Sinn Féin's Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness were heckled by up to 20 loyalists as they arrived at the conference at Belfast's Europa Hotel.

After that, the PSNI delegation entered the hotel through a side door.

In 2011, Mr Baggott said he would accept an invitation to address Sinn Féin's ard fheis (annual party conference) at some point in the future.

The Ulster Unionist party leader Mike Nesbitt had agreed to give a "keynote address" to the City of Equals conference, but pulled out of the event because of remarks made by Sinn Féin's John O'Dowd.

Mr O'Dowd sparked controversy in a BBC TV debate last month, when he dismissed concerns from the UUP, SDLP and Alliance that they had been kept in the dark about proposals for tackling sectarianism and division by replying: "So what?"

Martin McGuinness refused to criticise Mr Nesbitt, saying he hoped in future such events could be jointly organised by nationalists and unionists.

In his speech Mr McGuinness sent good wishes to the royal family following news of the Duke of Edinburgh's exploratory operation.

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