Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

DebateNI home of Northern Ireland politics

Bishop denies snubbing Orange talks

Bishop of Down and Connor Noel Treanor
Bishop of Down and Connor Noel Treanor

A Catholic bishop has denied snubbing an invitation by the Orange Order for talks regarding parades past a church embroiled in a marching dispute.

St Patrick's Catholic church in Donegall Street, Belfast, became a focal point of parades after a loyalist band was filmed playing a sectarian song outside the church on the Twelfth of July last year.

Public disorder followed a Royal Black Preceptory march past the church last August.

Yesterday, the Catholic Church denied bishop of Down and Connor, Noel Treanor, had rejected an offer to meet with Orange leaders in a bid to resolve the row. Father Eddie McGee, a spokesman for the Catholic Church, told the BBC's Sunday Sequence programme the invitation was not for face-to-face talks involving Bishop Treanor.

He said an unsigned, open letter was issued by the Orange Order.

But an invitation to a covenant exhibition "has morphed into what some people believe is that Bishop Treanor has refused or rebuffed face to face talks with the Orange Order", Fr Magee said.

"This is entirely inaccurate."

Orange Order chaplain, Rev Mervyn Gibson, said the offer to meet stands, adding that if it required a personal invitation "it would be followed up".