04 July 2014

Orange Order meets Unionist parties

Senior members of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland and County Grand Orange Lodges throughout the Province met today (FRI) with representatives of the main Unionist parties.

The meeting was held at Grand Lodge headquarters in east Belfast.

Among the attendees was the Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Edward Stevenson; Grand Master of the County Grand Orange Lodge of Belfast, George Chittick; DUP leader Peter Robinson; Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt; and representatives of the TUV, PUP and UPRG (west Belfast).

Grand Master Edward Stevenson said afterwards:

“We had a productive meeting with our Unionist political representatives, where we as an Institution offered our full support for their joint statement and unity of purpose following the Parades Commission’s nonsensical decision preventing Ligoniel Orangemen from once again completing their Twelfth parade. 
“Grand Lodge is also mindful at this time of restrictions on other Orange parades throughout the Province. 
“We will continue purposeful dialogue within the Orange family and wider pro-Union community over the coming days; and will outline our response in due course. 
“Although there is much anger at the latest restriction on our legitimate cultural expression and traditions; I would once again reiterate the Institution’s call for any protest to be lawful and peaceful. Violence will not help our cause, and only play into the hands of our enemies.”

Orange Order slams 'preposterous' determination

Responding to the decision of the Parades Commission to prevent Ligoniel Lodges from completing their Twelfth parade in north Belfast, an Orange Order spokesman said:

“This preposterous decision by the Parades Commission only underlines the increasing perception that its determinations are dictated by the threat of physical force opposition to our parades.

Such reckless action comes despite the prolonged and genuine efforts by the County Grand Orange Lodge of Belfast, and primarily the Ligoniel lodges, to defuse tensions concerning Loyal Order parades in this part of the city over the past 12 months, including face-to-face discussions with nationalist residents.

There will quite rightly be indignation across the entire Unionist community at the latest restriction on our legitimate cultural expression and traditions; and therefore the Orange Institution will be meeting with our political leaders at the earliest opportunity to discuss further the ramifications of this decision.

We are also mindful of continuing intransigent opposition by republicans to Loyal Order parades in other areas of the Province, including the longstanding situation at Drumcree.

Despite the exploits of an ill-informed and apparently ill-disposed Parades Commission, we would appeal for calm and call on all not to be drawn into the trap being set by republicans.

Any violence will only undermine our cause.

We would reiterate that anyone wishing to protest against this outrageous decision must do so in a peaceful manner.

Only then can civil and religious liberty prevail.”