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Orange Order to communicate directly with Sinn Fein

Published 20/02/2010

Disturbances On Garvaghy Road Portadown May 1998. Rioters hurl stones at RUC riot police on the Garvaghy Road, Portadown, Northern Ireland, during disturbances following an Orange parade in the area.
Orange Order: Drumcree, Portadown
Drumcree Orange Parade At Portadown July 1998. Portadown Grand Master Harold Gracey gives a speech to the crowds outside Drumcree Church of Ireland.
Drumcree Orange Order Demonstration Scarfs drapped around the Road Sign of Drumcree near Portadown
Army Prepare For Drumcree July 2001
Nationalist Protest March At Garvaghy Road March 1998. A young Loyalist waves the Union Jack at Royal Ulster Constabulary police in riot gear, from the Loyalist side of the town of Portadown, Northern Ireland, as a nationalist-republican protest march, passed by peacefully down the Nationalist Garvaghy road.
Orangemen On The Garvaghy Road, July 2000
A petrol bomber on the Garvaghy Road
Orangemen go no further as they reach the barrier at Drumcreee preventing them from marching on the Garvaghy Rd.
Tempers flare as Orangemen are blocked from walking the Garvaghy Rd, Drumcree, July 2000
Northern Ireland Troubles gallery.....Nationalist Protest March At Garvaghy Road March 1998. Security Forces kept a Loyalist counter demonstration at a safe distance from Nationalist marchers near Oben Street, Portadown
Nationalist Protest March At Garvaghy Road March 1998. Brid Rodgers and Brendan McKenna in attendance at Garvaghy Road demonstration, Portadown
Drumcree - July 6th 2002. Soldiers erect a security fence at Drumcree Church in Portadown.
An RUC officer fires plastic bullets at rioting nationalists on the Garvaghy Road
An injured woman is led away, Drumcree July 1997
Garvaghy Road Residents Meet With David Trimble May 99. Brendan McKenna arrives at Craigavon Civic Centre to meet the First Minister David Trimble in an effort to solve the Drumcree stand off.
Drumcree July 2000
Drumcree by Tony Hendron
Portadown March at Drumcree bridge July 2002 Portadown District Orangemen parade down to the barrier at Drumcree before trouble flared
Nationalist protesters walk to Garvaghy Road July 1997. Residents Coalition in Drumcree Portadown to voice their anger at Loyalist Parades through their area
Riot Police are called in every night to the Garvaghy Road as the Drumcree Stand Off continues
Drumcree, Northern Ireland. A makeshift road block on main road into Portadown town centre
Mark Harbinson pictured at Drumcree July 2000

Today's meeting of the Orange Order’s governing body — the Grand Lodge — is expected to sanction the first direct communication between the institution and Sinn Fein.

The special meeting called to discuss marches is expected to approve a response to the Hillsborough deal’s proposals on disputed parade routes which will be sent to the Parades Working Group which includes Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly, John O’Dowd and Michelle Gildernew.

None of the six-member group is expected to attend the Grand Lodge gathering, although the DUP members — Jeffrey Donaldson, Nelson McCausland and Stephen Moutray — did debate issues surrounding parades with County Grand Lodge officers on Tuesday night.

Today’s meeting was arranged in November last year when it was expected Grand Lodge would be discussing the final report of the group set up under Lord Ashdown to examine possible solutions to parading disputes.

Instead it has only an interim report from Lord Ashdown to respond to but an imminent deadline to meet to let the DUP/Sinn Fein working group know what it thinks about the basic outline in the Hillsborough Deal.

Grand Lodge veterans predict that today’s meeting should last no longer than three hours and expect a clear response to be forwarded to the parades group on Tuesday indicating the Institution’s opposition to the DUP strategy outlined at Brownlow House.

On Thursday the First Minister and Deputy First Minister indicated the final proposals agreed between their two teams of negotiators may not be published which further limits the extent to which Grand Lodge can approve any outline given by the DUP team.

“Robinson and McGuinness are indicating now that they won’t be publishing their agreed outcome, if they reach one, so what is Grand Lodge supposed to give its

verdict on?” one delegate said last night.

“The brief outline in the Hillsborough paper hasn’t been favourably received within the Orange so I doubt Grand Lodge will be persuaded to change its stated policy of not speaking to residents’ groups.”

One possible speaker in favour of the proposals in the Hillsborough Deal is the Rev Mervyn Gibson who as a Deputy Grand Chaplain to the institution is entitled to attend today’s meeting.

The Rev Gibson, who is attached to the Ballymacarrett District in east Belfast, was appointed by First Minister Peter Robinson as an adviser to the Parades Working Group when it was set up.

Belfast Telegraph

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