Published Wednesday, 26 September 2012
A motion to grant the Orange Order freedom of Lisburn has been withdrawn. (© Getty)
At a city council meeting on Tuesday night, the DUP Mayor William Leathem announced that they were "regrettably" withdrawing the proposal.
The motion, which was brought to a meeting last month, was proposed by the DUP and backed by the Ulster Unionist Party.
Sinn Féin, Alliance and an independent councillor opposed the motion, SDLP representatives who were absent at the time of the meeting also expressed opposition to the proposal.
The motion was moved to a council committee for assessment.
Addressing the Chamber, Alderman Leathem said on Tuesday: "I am very disappointed that other political parties after meeting with me have now reneged on a decision which they were supportive of; and turned this into a political decision instead of a civic one.
"It is with regret that I am now proposing to withdraw the recommendation to award the Freedom of the City to the Loyal Orange Institution as the smaller political parties within Lisburn City Council have used this as a political football and this was never what I or my party wished."
To protect the Loyal Orange Institution from the 'political football game' I believe it is best to withdraw this proposal. This is a great shame as approximately 5,700 organisations use Orange Halls throughout Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland; and this includes cross-community groups.
Alliance Cllr for Lisburn Brian Dornan welcomed the decision to withdraw the proposal.
He said that 40% of Lisburn councillors have opposed the motion, which meant the motion did not have the majority support needed.
Cllr Dornan said he felt the suggestion was "not justifiable".
"The Orange Order does not have cross community support, so I do not think it would have been correct to have granted it with such a high civic honour," he said.
"When so many families are finding it hard to get through this difficult economic period we should not be dealing with issues such as this.
"We were consulted about this issue in confidence in May this year and we made it clear that we believed it was inappropriate and divisive and so would oppose it. We have been consistent in our opposition to it and I am glad that it is not going any further."
Sinn Féin Councillor for Lisburn Arder Carson said that the withdrawal of the DUP motion "was the only option given the divisive nature of the move".
"It is clear the DUP were left with no option but to withdraw their motion calling for the Orange Order to be given the freedom of the city," Cllr Carson said.
"How could a motion which wanted to see an anti catholic organisation, who have played no positive role in the peace process reach the support of all those who live in and represent the Lisburn area.
"The Orange Order have it within their gift to change this, move our society forward, and deal with the handful of contentious marches through engagement with the residents of those communities affected."
He added: "Had the SDLP turned up to vote in the full council meeting where the motion was first proposed the DUP might have realised this earlier."