|Royal York Loyal Orange Lodge walking past Belfast (St. Annes) Cathedral.|
THE Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland look forward to the parade on Saturday 29 September to celebrate the centenary of the signing of the Ulster Solemn League and Covenant, an event that saw the Unionist family united and determined.
Sadly there has been an unhealthy focus on the parade at a point were no previous contention existed - St Patrick's Roman Catholic Chapel in Donegall Street. Occurrences at St Patrick's on the 12th July and the 'Last Saturday’ have already been the subject of statements clarifying that for any inadvertent offence caused, no hurt was intended.
The apologies offered have been graciously accepted by the Clergy in St Patrick’s as genuine.
Additionally, quiet, frank and constructive conversations have taken place with the clergy and parishioners, as the Institution sought; to defuse tensions around the forthcoming Covenant parade, and build relationships by listening to views raised and explaining our position in respect of parading, music and the Parades Commission.
Indeed, the Grand Lodge has an outreach programme that visits Catholic Maintained Schools regularly to share information about our culture and history. In furtherance of this outreach we invite Bishop Treanor, the clergy and parishioners of St Patrick's to visit the Covenant exhibition at Schomberg House as our guests. It is hoped that the lines of communication opened by this opportunity will be maintained and developed in the months ahead.
In a respectful and sincere effort to address what we heard and following further conversations with local districts, bands, community representatives, political leaders and locally elected representatives, the Ulster Covenant centenary parade on 29 September when passing St Patrick's, which will be open; will play hymns. The return parade in the early evening will show similar respect.
The Orange Institution is committed to civil and religious liberty for all and developing a programme of mutual understanding that begins to rebuild Christian neighbourliness and a return to normality. All we seek is acceptance and respect for our traditions; we will not deny others what we ourselves desire.