Order backs call for peaceful protests

Published Friday, 04 July 2014
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The Orange Order says it is supporting unionist representatives after they walked out of talks at Stormont in response to a Parades Commission ruling.

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Senior Orangemen met with DUP leader Peter Robinson, UUP leader Mike Nesbitt as well as TUV, PUP and UPRG representatives at Schomberg House in east Belfast on Friday afternoon.

In a statement following the meeting, the Order said they had offered their "full support" following a joint statement issued by the unionist delegation and a "unity of purpose" in relation to the watchdog's decision to ban a Twelfth Orange parade from returning past a north Belfast interface.

"The Grand Lodge is also mindful at this time of restrictions on other Orange parades throughout the Province," Grand Master Edward Stevenson said.

"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."

The Orange Order has called for any protests to be peaceful.

"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," Mr Stevenson said.

The meeting came after the unionist delegation walked out of talks at Stormont on remaining divisive issues in Northern Ireland.

The DUP and UUP also pulled out of a North-South Ministerial Council meetings in Dublin on Friday.

The representatives pledged a "graduated response" to the parade ruling.

In a joint statement, the two main unionist parties, along with other smaller unionist and loyalist groups, said they would no longer engage with the Parades Commission.

They also said there would be "peaceful and lawful protests", something that First Minister Peter Robinson reiterated later in an interview with UTV.

Sinn Féin north Belfast MLA Gerry Kelly has warned that this "graduated response" would only destabilise the situation in the region.

"There is no logic to their position - on one hand they are saying they are doing this out of leadership, but leadership would dictate that those who are elected sit down and talk this out," he commented.

"No matter what happens in the next 10 days or 10 months, we will still have to come back and deal with the three toxic issues that we are dealing with."

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams has said the Irish and British governments should not acquiesce to unionist threats.

He said he had warned Prime Minister David Cameron that the political process in the north is deteriorating.

He said: "Unionist leaders cannot divorce themselves from the likely consequences of their call for protests against the Ardoyne decision by the Parades Commission."

Alliance leader David Ford has expressed his concern over the unionists' public reaction.

"I think the real difficultly is that some people can make fine speeches, they can issue a statement saying we are not calling people on the streets but people don't sit and read their statements in detail," the MLA said.

"The unfortunate reality is that young men will hear them talking about protests and they will think that means protests on the streets and over the last 18 months 600-700 young men have got criminal records because of the way they interpreted the remarks of so called unionist leaders.

"It is easier for people who make a fine statement full of elegantly English language and then go home to their beds at night. Sadly there are young men currently Hydebank Wood because they listened, but they didn't listen to the exact words. Because that is the way things happen."

© UTV News
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39 Comments
protester in newtownabbey wrote (78 days ago):
I will be protesting peacefully violence only makes people look wrong we r out protesting to stop discrimination against protestants the 12th of July is enjoyed by thousands of people a year it brings in tourism its a great family day out so y r some biggots trying to ruin this day for families enjoying their heritage?!
Larry in Belfast wrote (78 days ago):
Tell me, what happened to the 'religious' divide that 'used to' separate the communities. It seems to be that 'Christianity' from whatever side has totally disappeared and it is now unionism and republicanism. True Christians do not get involved in 'trouble' or rioting and it is time now for all 'true' Christians to stand up and voice their disgust against these politicians and parade organisers, from whatever side. Forget political correctness, it stinks, we need to return to a moral, law abiding society with respect for God and His word which should be honoured and the dignity of human life, not human rights!!!
lucylou in belfast wrote (79 days ago):
John in Antrim====our big problem here is that ALL these 'so called politicians' are 'snide' 'sectarian and full of hate and can't hide it when the right button is pushed' They are ALL 'snakes in the grass'=='fence sitters who don't always answer for themselves but refer to their leaders previous offerings' 'Excuses already made for rioting [from BOTH sides who never learn] 'Young cannon fodder [from BOTH sides] will never learn. SHAME. Unfortunately John, they can ALL be described using the words you have applied to one of them regardless of what 'side' he was representing on the 'debate' Only in N Ireland/ would those who sit in government here be seen as worthy for the positions they hold. What does that say about those who vote them into power?Hence the excuses and cannon fodder.
Snowy in Ardoyne, Ireland wrote (80 days ago):
Well put Tommy Atkins
D in belfast wrote (80 days ago):
Does Peter Robinson represent all the people of Northern Ireland?.....or does he represent the orange order? because more than half the people of this country do not support or want to see or hear for the matter the orange order...that is the simple true fact...They should do a survey or even better a referendum on wither to allow to continue as normal losing investment and everything else or to ban the orange order and all other sectarian parades and flags.!
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