The Orange Order has stopped short of agreeing to enter into talks with a residents’ association ahead of a parade to mark the centenary of the Ulster Covenant.
The SDLP’s Alban Maginness and Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly have both called for the Orange Order to meet with Carrick Hill residents in Belfast ahead of the September 29 parade. Last month, trouble flared when bands defied a ruling banning them from playing music as they passed St Patrick’s Church in Donegall Street, near Carrick Hill.
The Orange Order has said that bands taking part in the Covenant parade will play hymns as they pass the church. Bands “will show similar respect” on a return parade that evening.
An Order spokesman described the move a “respectful and sincere effort to address what we heard” following “quiet and frank” talks with districts, bands, community representatives, political leaders and elected representatives.
Frank Dempsey, from Carrick Hill Concerned Residents Group, said the group was “aghast” that it was not invited to attend last week’s talks with the Orange Order.
But Rev Mervyn Gibson of the Order said: “The Orange Order do not see what would be gained by further meetings.”