The Orange Order has announced it has postponed a parade planned for May to mark Northern Ireland’s centenary, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The order said senior representatives unanimously agreed to extend its directive that no Orange parades should take place, to June 1.
It said the decision followed a recent meeting with First Minister Arlene Foster, Health Minister Robin Swann and chief medical officer Dr Michael McBride.
Grand Lodge Officers and senior representatives of every County Grand Lodge have unanimously agreed to extend the current existing directive that no Orange parades are to take place until 1st June 2021. Click link for full statement.https://t.co/dDM5CiYz7l— Orange Order (@OrangeOrder) February 1, 2021
“The ongoing risk of community transmission and serious concerns around new, more virulent variants of the Covid-19 virus have reaffirmed the threat posed by the ongoing pandemic and as such any event that would attract large numbers of spectators is not viable or responsible at this time,” the Orange Order said in a statement.
As a result, a rally and parade, titled the CentenNIal of Northern Ireland, planned to take place on May 29, has been postponed.
The order said it remains committed to delivering this parade in the future, at a time when it can be hosted safely, “in the manner and scale this important anniversary deserves”.
Grand master Edward Stevenson said that while many may be disappointed, he said they are committed to the health and wellbeing of members and the wider community.
“To bring crowds on to the street at this time would undermine the work of the institution’s members, who played an active role in responding to the need for PPE equipment and the many who continue to support communities in various ways,” he said.
“This decision to forego parades until June 1 will be reviewed when appropriate, and responsible decisions will be taken as to the likely nature of future parades and events.”