Irish Republican News · July 8, 2010
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Still no, say Orangemen

The Orange Order has rejected draft legislation to deal with coat-trailing sectarian parades just days before the ‘Twelfth’ Battle of the Boyne marches.

The Protestant order’s ‘Grand Lodge’ said they could not accept the legislation “in its present form” during a vote in County Tyrone on Tuesday evening.

The proposed legislation focuses on mediation and a code of conduct for residents and marchers. Although the vote does not affect this year’s marches it means that the Parades Commission may remain until at least next year.

The timetable laid out for the new parades legislation under the Hillsborough agreement in Feburary is now in doubt. Reform of parading was a concession to unionists in the deal in return for the devolution of policing and justice powers from London to Belfast.

Ulster Unionist and Orange Order member David McNary said the order was unlikely to change its decision and accept the legislation.

“This is a very clear message from the Orange institution and people should respect it,” he said.

Sinn Fein assembly member John O’Dowd, who sat on the Assembly parades working group which drafted the legislation, said the order needed to “wake up”.

“The days of the Orange Order dictating policy are over. The days of the orange state have gone,” he said.

SOLP assembly member Dolores Kelly said the vote showed Sinn Fein should not have agreed to the DUP’s insistence on scrapping the Parades Commission during the Hillsborough talks.

“The Parades Commission has by and large done a good job. It can handle contentious parades with beefed up powers if needed and it should not be sacrificed for political expediency,” she said.

A Sinn Fein office in Limavady was struck in an arson attack on the same night an Orange hall in the town was vandalised.

The fire at the Sinn Fein premises was set on Wednesday night.

Local Sinn Fein councillor Paddy Butcher has appealed for calm and urged people not to overreact.

“As regards to Sinn Fein, it’s business as usual. This is the marching season, it’s a very sensitive time of the year and we have to show leadership - be calm and responsible,” he said.

In an apparently separate incident, three men in their 20s were charged in connection with an attack on an Orange Hall in the town later that night.

Sectarian tensions in the North remain high ahead of the loyalist ‘Eleventh Night’ bonfires on Sunday night and the Orange marches the following day.

The most contentious march is expected to be the feeder parade through the Ardoyne district in north Belfast.

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