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Traditional July 12 parades will not go ahead despite lockdown relaxations

Several bands have indicated their intention to apply for walks within their communities, with no more than 30 members and adhering to guidelines.

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Traditional Orange Order parades will not happen on July 12 despite the easing of lockdown (Brian Lawless/PA).

Traditional Orange Order parades will not happen on July 12 despite the easing of lockdown (Brian Lawless/PA).

Traditional Orange Order parades will not happen on July 12 despite the easing of lockdown (Brian Lawless/PA).

Traditional Orange Order parades will not happen on July 12 despite the easing of lockdown, the organisation’s ruling body in Northern Ireland said.

Instead, several bands have indicated their intention to apply for walks within their communities, with no more than 30 members and adhering to social distancing guidelines, for the purpose of entertaining people in their gardens and at their front doors, the Order added.

A spokesman said: “Bands have rightly asked members of the public not to follow them.

“Instead, they have encouraged a ‘stay at home’ message, with the band bringing music to them.

“This is a model the institution would support as it complements our ‘Twelfth at Home’ campaign.”

The parades were formally cancelled by the Orange Institution in April and that position has not changed, despite some recent easing in Covid-19 guidelines and restrictions.

A spokesman for the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland said: “Medical advice is clear – the risk from coronavirus is still a very real and present danger to our community.

“Coronavirus spreads through crowds and therefore anything that brings large crowds onto the street should not take place at this time.

“From the outset of this pandemic, our position has been consistent – we have sought to protect the health of not only our members, but the whole community in Northern Ireland.

“Unfortunately, others supposedly in positions of authority, by their recent actions, have not shown the same leadership or concern for public health.”

The recent relaxation of guidelines to allow 30 people to gather outside comes with medical advice that crowds still should not gather to prevent the spread of infection.

Instead, the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland has actively been promoting its “Twelfth at Home” campaign offering alternative ways to celebrate.

It will shortly be meeting chief medical officer Dr Michael McBride to discuss matters relating to the institution.

A spokesman for the Parades Commission said: “During lockdown, the majority of band parade organisers agreed to withdraw their notifications to parade.

“Since the easement on Monday evening permitting up to 30 persons outdoors, bands have submitted new notifications, mostly for the Twelfth. 50 parade notifications have been received today and yesterday, with more anticipated.”

Details are on the commission’s website.

The commission added: “Parades are subject to Covid-19 regulations, the enforcement of which is a matter for the Northern Ireland Executive and PSNI, including regulation six restricting numbers to 30 persons.

“The commission’s role is focused on community relations, disruption to community relations, disruption to community life, public disorder and human rights.

“The commission has no role to ‘approve’ parades, nor to impose conditions on the grounds of public health.

“The production of guidelines on public health grounds is not a function of the commission. The commission will co-operate fully with those focused on the public health emergency.”

PA