Belfast Telegraph

Twaddell talks bid is rejected by local lodge

By Rebecca Black

One of the Orange lodges at the centre of the north Belfast parading dispute has rejected an initiative to solve the 18-month stand-off.

Secretary of State Theresa Villiers announced in October that she planned to set up a panel to tackle the dispute which has seen a protest camp established at the Ardoyne flashpoint for a year-and-a-half.

Ballysillan LOL 1891 broke ranks last night to announce it would not sign up to the panel.

It is one of three Orange lodges protesting against a Parades Commission determination for the July 12 parade in 2012 that they could not stage their return parade along the Crumlin Road past the Ardoyne shop fronts.

A spokesman for the County Grand Orange Lodge of Belfast said work would continue on the impasse.

The remit of the panel announced by Ms Villiers is to examine the "totality of parading issues in this area on an all-year round basis" and will need be able to "engage effectively with both sides of the community". It is due to report its findings by January 31, 2015, however Ms Villers has not yet appointed any members.

Last night the process hit another snag with Ballysillan LOL 1891 going on a solo run, announcing it would not sign up. In a statement the lodge said it would not accept anything short of a judge-led inquiry with legal powers to compel witnesses to give evidence.

"We do not support the setting up of or appointment of such a panel on parading," the lodge said in a statement. "We never asked for a panel on parading, we asked for an official enquiry which would have legal powers.

"We feel that this panel would be a negative step which will not address or investigate the fundamental flaws in the legislative framework for parades."

The lodge said it would not sign up to a panel with no legal powers. "We call on the Secretary of State to initiate an 'Official Enquiry on Parading in North Belfast' which can investigate previous bias determinations and will lead to reform of parading legislation that is necessary to ensure all cultures enjoy freedom of association, expression and assembly."

Speaking for the Orange Order, Rev Mervyn Gibson said: "The County Grand Orange Lodge of Belfast notes the statement of LOL 1891, however, we remain committed along with all lodges and the broader unionist family to ensure the Ligoniel lodges complete the parade home."

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