Orders agree on Derry parades protocol

Orders agree on Derry parades protocol

Loyal Orders in Londonderry have agreed to a landmark blueprint for parading in the city, which could be adopted elsewhere to help ease tensions around the marching season.

The Maiden City Accord was drafted after five months of confidential meetings and has been accepted by all Loyal Orders in the city.The Orange Order, the Apprentice Boys, the Royal Black Preceptory and the Londonderry Bands Forum were involved.They want parades to be seen as a positive and vibrant aspect of Protestant culture.The Accord states that parades have to abide by principles of respect, dignity and public safety.Derek Moore from the Londonderry Bands Forum chaired the secret talks and says it's the first time Loyal Orders have signed up to a written set of rules on parading.He said: "The document is really a common-sense approach to processions and parades that has been going on for a long time, but the only difference is it's now down on paper."The agreement comes ahead of the Apprentice Boys of Derry's annual celebration of the ending of the siege, which is the biggest loyal order parade in Northern Ireland.They have encouraged Loyal Orders elsewhere to study the guidelines to see if it can adopted or adapted in their areas.Apprentice Boys Governor Jim Brownlee commented: "The Maiden City Accord is the glue which brings all the participants together from bands people, marshals, the Loyal Orders, it's the Loyal Orders and the Bands Forum coming together locally to say this is how we expect our people to parade in public."In recent years, tensions around parades in the city have eased greatly and last year thousands attended the flagship Twelfth demonstrations as part of the UK City of Culture programme.Recently, PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton praised the success of engagement on parades."If there is learning that can be captured from that and applied in Belfast or other places, then I think we all share a collective responsibility to do that," he said.The Accord will now be sent to all Orange lodges and Apprentice Boys Clubs across Northern Ireland.The Orange Order has said it hopes the blueprint will work successfully in the city."We note the written protocol is specifically tailored to parades in the city, and in this regard is not necessarily a blueprint for parades in other areas of Northern Ireland," a spokesperson said."However, Grand Lodge will study carefully the effects of the accord when it is fully implemented and if there are lessons for the Institution as a result, then we will take them on board."

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