Number of Orange parades challenged

The Protestant Orange Order in Scotland may reduce the number of parades held by the organisation after coming under pressure from the authorities there.

Scottish Orange Order Grand Master Ian Wilson yesterday confirmed that Orangemen had to consider dropping the number of parades they hold.

Following discussions with Scottish police earlier this year, local Orange Order Grand Master Ian Wilson said the order has undertaken a review of all its parades.

“If we find we are guilty of parading ourselves too much and making ourselves unwelcome we have got to take a long, hard look at that because we have got to be realistic,” Mr Wilson said.

Npw fresh questions are being asked about the need by the Protestant marching orders to hold 2,500 parades in the Six Counties every year. Many are highly contentious with nationalist residents, whol see them as sectarian and triumhalist. The parades have led to standoffs, rioting and large-scale disturbances in recent years, although last sumer was relatively peaceful.

Sinn Féin Upper Bann assembly member John O’Dowd last night welcomed the news from Scotland.

“I would hope that local Orangemen will follow the example of their brethren in Scotland and consider reducing the hundreds of parades (they hold) across the north each year,” Mr O’Dowd said.

“Sinn Féin views Mr Wilson’s comments as a welcome step forward on behalf of the order and hopes that such a stance can be reciprocated in the six counties.

“We believe that dialogue is key to resolving parades disputes in the north and that a lot could be achieved if the Orange Order dropped its ban over engaging in talks with local residents.”

Meanwhile, talks took place in north Belfast yesterday ahead of this year’s Tour of the North parade, which is due to take place tomorrow.

More than 2,000 Orangemen and 21 accompanying bands are due to take part in the parade around north Belfast.

Last week the Parades Commission banned the Orange Order from marching through the nationalist Cliftonpark Avenue, Cliftonville Road and Antrim Road areas, where there had been serious violence during a previous march in 1996.

Orangemen will, however, be allowed to parade along a flashpoint interface at North Queen Street between the nationalist New Lodge and loyalist Tigers Bay, where violence erupted two years ago.

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