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Show courage to help resolve parades issues

In 2005, as Belfast's Lord Mayor I convened meetings of the organisations whose parading then created problems. They were St Patrick's Day, Gay Pride and the Orange Order's various parades.

Once the belligerent, antagonistic and negative people had excluded themselves, we made considerable progress. We established basic ground rules and trust that we would not let each other down. We just have to witness the progress, increasing acceptance and economic and cultural benefits of the St Patrick's Day and Pride parades, but we still have some way to go.

A recent admission by one of the Orange participants in 2005 was that the Order had progressed considerably in those few short months, but had not progressed much since (to his considerable disappointment).

Nevertheless, the Twelfth still has the potential to be an attractive and positive spectacle.

In business, if you want to solve a problem, you talk to anyone who might be able to help. You don't deliberately offend, or insult your opponent, or other people who might be part of the solution. And you don't exclude yourself.

This may require some courage, but surely the goals of peaceful communities and more tolerance are worth temporary embarrassment. It has been done before, so why not again?

CLLR TOM EKIN (Alliance)

Belfast City Council

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