18 January 2006

Orangemen talks 'breached policy'

BBC


The Parades Commission rules on contentious marches

The grand master of the Orange Order has criticised a decision by the group's Portadown district to meet the new Parades Commission.

It was the first time Orangemen have met the Parades Commission in NI.

The talks between Order spokesman David Jones and the commission were held to discuss an application to parade on the town's Garvaghy Road later this month.

Orange Order Grand Master Robert Saulters said the talks were in contravention of Grand Lodge policy.

Orangemen last walked down the Garvaghy Road from a church service at Drumcree in July 1997, however, the Parades Commission has since banned them from parading down the road following objections by nationalist residents.

David Jones, who met the commission before at a seminar in South Africa, said he had not personally heard anything Mr Saulters had said about the talks.

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"We have to see what their action is, what comes out of the meeting we had today," he said.

"It was an initial meeting with the new Parades Commission, I don't want to be saying too much at the minute with regards what the future may hold."

The commission had been expected to give its decision on the application on Wednesday, but commission members will meet again on Thursday before finalising their view.

It was set up in 1997 to make decisions on whether or not restrictions should be imposed on controversial parades during Northern Ireland's marching season.

New appointments, including Portadown Orangemen David Burrows and Donald McKay, were made to the commission in November 2005.

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