Leading Orangeman bids to calm tensions over Dungiven march
A senior Orangeman has told residents in a Co Londonderry town they have 'nothing to fear' after they threatened to take legal action to halt a parade.
It is understood a nationalist residents' group in Dungiven has taken legal advice over the annual parade on Sunday.
The Dungiven Concerned Residents' Association said that, if necessary, it will take High Court action to block the parade because of apparent changes to the Parades Commission determination on the march. It claims this alters a local agreement with the Orange Order.
The association views the change as an open invitation for Orangemen around the country to attend.
But former UUP MP William Ross, who takes part in the parade every year, said: "This is an annual parade which has been taking place for years.
"There are no plans whatsoever to make any changes."
In recent years, it has been agreed that only local members of the Orange Order participate in the parade to Dungiven's Church of Ireland.
Last year's Parade Commission determination on the annual parade stated: "The notified purpose of the parade is 'Annual Sunday Service'. There are 75 participants notified. The Commission understands that the parade participants will comprise local Orange Order members only."
However, this year's determination said: "The notified purpose of the parade is 'Annual Sunday Service.' There are 75 participants notified."
The change in the wording of the Parade Commission determination has caused Dungiven Concerned Residents Association to voice concerns that there could be an influx of loyal order members from other areas, and it said that has caused tensions in the area to become inflamed.
A spokesman for the residents' association said: "For years the number taking part in the parade has increased. We believed coming to a local agreement could help resolve this.
"Instead, this appears to have changed without anyone from the Parades Commission notifying us. This has caused the tension in the town to be doubled."
A spokesperson for the Parades Commission said: "The Parades Commission has received a notification by Dungiven LOL 2036 regarding an annual church parade in Dungiven on Sunday, 10th June, involving 75 participants and no band.
"This notification reflects a local accommodation that the parade will not exceed 75 participants, a measure introduced a few years ago to reduce community tensions."