The Orange Order has given the politicians some breathing space by withholding judgment on the recently negotiated Hillsborough Agreement.
On Saturday the members of the Grand Lodge decided to wait and see what detailed proposals would emerge from a six-member DUP-Sinn Fein group discussing the vexed question of dealing with parades.
The Grand Master Robert Saulters underlined that the Orange Order had several areas of |concern, but concluded very wisely that it required further clarification before the Institution could reach a conclusion. This also applies to the rest of the two main communities most concerned with parading, but people will not have long to wait as the report from the working group on ‘agreed outcomes’ is due to be presented to the two senior Stormont Ministers this week.
It is important to remember that the vast majority of the parades pass off peacefully each year, but the handful that remain in dispute — including Drumcree — have the potential for|creating tension, possible violence and political set-backs out of all proportion to their size.
So far a solution has evaded many people, including the Parades Commission which lost the trust of the Loyal Orders. The remit of the Hillsborough-inspired group is to try to produce a new and improved framework to rule on the marches, including a focus on local mediation and adjudication.
This is no easy task, and the fact that the group has been meeting is no guarantee that there will be instant solutions. This is a time for patience on all sides, and the Orange Order is right to proceed cautiously.
There will be opportunity enough for everyone to consider the proposals. However long it takes, the parties most closely involved need to get it right, for everybody’s sakes.