Belfast Telegraph

Forum idea on parades welcome, says Fr Martin Magill

By victoria o'hara

A Catholic priest has said a plan for a forum involving the Churches and loyal orders that would deal with flag and parade disputes is "worth exploring".

North Belfast cleric Fr Martin Magill opened the door to the possibility when discussing the idea put forward by Canon Ian Ellis, editor of the Church of Ireland Gazette.

Canon Ellis said disputes over expressions of identity were holding NI to ransom and most people wanted an end to them.

"They do cast a dark, dark shadow over the future. So the disputes require a mutually agreed resolution on the part of all those involved," said Canon Ellis.

"The Churches would not be coming with answers; the Churches would be coming with perspectives on how one does this type of thing."

Speaking on Radio Ulster, Fr Magill said: "I have to say, I would give this a guarded welcome.

"I'm very comfortable with the language Ian is talking about, particularly when he is talking about working for the common good."

Canon Ellis said he believed a "structured" forum would be a positive move on such issues.

"I do feel that continuing disputes over parades and flags are, in a way, holding the people of Northern Ireland to ransom."

He said the forum would meet regularly and would be officially appointed by the Churches that wished to be part of it and by the loyal orders. He said the Churches would offer "a fresh perspective".

However, former Orange Order chaplain and Parades Commissioner Rev Brian Kennaway expressed reservations about the Order's willingness to listen to the Churches' perspectives, and to engage properly.

Belfast Telegraph

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