Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 29 August 2015

Orange Order may shun PSNI chief Baggott's talks in Cardiff

By Alan Murray

Published 13/05/2013

Orange Order parade
Orange Order parade
Tobermore Orange Order parade. July 2012. Picture submitted by Rodney Mulholland
Orange Order men as they parade through Belfast
Female members of the Orange Order on the march in Belfast
Girls watch the start of the Orange Order parade in Belfast, as the 12th of July celebrations get underway, with Belfast hosting one of the largest parades
Pacemaker Press Belfast 12-07-2012: Tens of thousands of Orangemen and women will take part in the annual Twelfth celebrations across Northern Ireland today.There will be three flagship events in Carrickfergus, Ballynahinch and Fermanagh. Belfast City Hall will host the Orangefest celebrations which features street theatre and food demonstrations.Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Orange Order men gather in Belfast, as the 12th of July celebrations get underway, with Belfast hosting one of the largest parades. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday July 12, 2012. See PA story ULSTER Orange. Photo credit should read: Paul Faith/PA Wire
Orange Order bandsmen on the march in Belfast, as the 12th of July celebrations get underway, with Belfast hosting one of the largest parades. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday July 12, 2012. See PA story ULSTER Orange. Photo credit should read: Paul Faith/PA Wire
Pacemaker Press Belfast 12-07-2012: Tens of thousands of Orangemen and women will take part in the annual Twelfth celebrations across Northern Ireland today. Reece Parkhill pictured before the start of the Belfast celebration.Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 12-07-2012: Tens of thousands of Orangemen and women will take part in the annual Twelfth celebrations across Northern Ireland today.There will be three flagship events in Carrickfergus, Ballynahinch and Fermanagh. Belfast City Hall will host the Orangefest celebrations which features street theatre and food demonstrations.Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 12-07-2012: Tens of thousands of Orangemen and women will take part in the annual Twelfth celebrations across Northern Ireland today.There will be three flagship events in Carrickfergus, Ballynahinch and Fermanagh. Belfast City Hall will host the Orangefest celebrations which features street theatre and food demonstrations.Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 12-07-2012: Tens of thousands of Orangemen and women will take part in the annual Twelfth celebrations across Northern Ireland today.There will be three flagship events in Carrickfergus, Ballynahinch and Fermanagh. Belfast City Hall will host the Orangefest celebrations which features street theatre and food demonstrations.Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 12-07-2012: Tens of thousands of Orangemen and women will take part in the annual Twelfth celebrations across Northern Ireland today. Pride of the Shore from North Belfast took park in the Belfast celebration.There will be three flagship events in Carrickfergus, Ballynahinch and Fermanagh. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 12-07-2012: Tens of thousands of Orangemen and women will take part in the annual Twelfth celebrations across Northern Ireland today. Reece and Adam Parkhill pictured before the start of the Belfast celebration.Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Female bandsmen in Belfast, as the Orange Order 12th of July celebrations get underway, with Belfast hosting one of the largest parades. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday July 12, 2012. See PA story ULSTER Orange. Photo credit should read: Paul Faith/PA Wire

The Orange Order is expected to boycott Matt Baggott’s talks initiative in Cardiff.

Senior sources in the institution say the initiative is about community tensions and not about parades, and while individuals who are members of the Order may attend, they will not be speaking for it.

The initiative promoted by the University of Ulster and the PSNI is designed to try to resolve tensions between the force and loyalists in particular following rioting in east Belfast and north Belfast in December and January.

The Chief Constable (pictured) said on Friday that he agreed to participate in the initiative following discussions with the university and hoped that it could lead to a more peaceful marching season.

But leading Orangeman Rev Mervyn Gibson said the get-together wasn’t about parades.

“I understand it is about trying to improve relationships on the ground between the PSNI and the communities in different areas, not about parades.

“We saw the difficulties which arose in December and January when community tensions were high. My understanding is that those are the issues on the agenda.

“The Orange Order wasn’t invited and it is not about parades,” he said.

The presence of Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly at the conference would also prove a barrier to any official Orange Order involvement in the talks sources say.

“It’s very unlikely that the Order would send along a delegate to discuss issues when Gerry Kelly would be present, given his belligerent attitude to the Orange Order and the other loyal institutions,” one Orange senior figure said.

The Chief Constable said that the discussions would be about “local relationship-building” and he said protests in Belfast this year and the impact this may have on parades were serious matters for everyone concerned with the future.

“It's something I think we should be doing and an overwhelmingly good thing to do — if we enter into that season and we've done everything we can to improve those relationships and reach some degree of consensus and accommodation.”

He refused to confirm whether or not the Orange Order would be attending the talks.

“I would not have a problem with anybody being there from the orders, from the faith community, from local politicians, community representatives,” Matt Baggott said.

“If we can, by tweaking, reach a place where people have greater consensus and we end up without problems in July that would be fabulous and that is what we are working towards.”

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