The Order hit back after loyalist leader Jackie McDonald claimed there was no point in Orangemen walking down nationalist routes.
“It might be tradition and it might be culture but why would you?” the UDA ‘brigadier’ told the Belfast Telegraph in an interview yesterday.
McDonald’s comments come as the Sinn Fein/DUP working group continues to struggle to find a solution to the parading issue, and ahead of tomorrow’s special meeting of the Orange Order Grand Lodge where the only item on the agenda will be parading.
In a statement issued last night a spokesman for the Orange Order said: “Mr McDonald’s comments are not helpful at this time.”
Portadown District Master Daryl Hewitt declined to comment on Jackie McDonald’s shock remarks, saying the former UDA brigadier did not speak on behalf of the Orange Order.
DUP councillor and long-standing north Antrim Orangeman John Finlay said both sides must be accommodated during the marching season.
“I would have thought that this country was trying to move forward where both traditions can be accommodated,” he said.
“All we are asking is to walk down the Queen’s highway and if we can’t do that then there is no shared future. If Jackie McDonald is saying that there are certain roads for certain people then we are in a bad way. If we all pay our taxes and pay rates, both sides need to be accommodated.”
McDonald also attacked the triumphalism of marches through contentious areas and claimed Orangemen wanted to walk certain routes to “get one up” on the other community.
Ulster Unionist MLA Tom Elliott, a member of Knockmanoul LOL 443 in Fermanagh for almost 30 years, denied the claims.
“I don’t accept those comments, it is not to get one up on the other community and never has been.
“I would question Jackie McDonald’s level of knowledge in making these assessments.
“He is almost doing the work that he’s talking about in that for Sinn Fein.