Orange Order calls for Brokenshire to seize initiative on parades
The leadership of the Orange Order has urged the Secretary of State to grasp the opportunity offered by the recent resolution of the parades dispute in north Belfast.
Parades dominated the first formal discussions at Stormont House between senior Orangemen and James Brokenshire since the MP assumed his role earlier this year.
However, the problem of ongoing attacks on Orange halls was also on the Orange agenda.
Speaking afterwards, the Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Edward Stevenson, said: "We appreciate Mr Brokenshire taking the time to meet with us.
"During our meeting, we urged the Secretary of State to maximize the new opportunity created by the recent resolution to the Crumlin Road impasse in north Belfast.
"We reminded Mr Brokenshire the outworkings of this agreement took place in spite of the Parades Commission, whose actions only served to impede progress. This continues to be very much evident, as illustrated by the ongoing situation at Drumcree and unnecessary restrictions being placed on other Loyal Order parades.
"We emphasised to Mr Brokenshire of the urgent need to resolve these matters.
"As the power to change the existing parading legislation is a reserved matter, we underlined to the Secretary of State his responsibilities regarding new laws relating to parades and protests, which must be fair and equitable to all communities.
"We firmly believe protestors and objectors should not be treated any more favourably than parade organisers, and any form of regulation must be fully transparent and accountable."
Mr Stevenson added: "If aspirations for a more tolerant society are to be truly realised, we trust Mr Brokenshire will acknowledge our genuine concerns."