01 July 2005

Orangemen 'should reject talks'


Mr Saulters said he wanted the Twelfth of July to be peaceful

Orangemen should reject invitations to be a part of any process breaching Grand Lodge policy, the body's grand master has said.

Robert Saulters said such talks breached "if not the letter, certainly the spirit of the Grand Lodge policy".

His statement follows the revelation that the order's west Belfast district master took part in talks involving one of the city's most senior republicans.

The Order says it does not hold talks with residents' groups or republicans.

However, Billy Mawhinney - the most senior Orangeman on the Shankill Road - and republican Sean Murray were involved in discussions leading up to last Saturday's postponed Whiterock Parade.

In a statement on Friday, Mr Saulters said he was dismayed about the situation regarding parades in Londonderry and west Belfast.

He said he wanted to warn members that opponents would seek "to tempt them into processes which include meetings and dialogue with Sinn Fein/IRA-backed residents groups".

"We encourage all Orange brethren to be disciplined and very cautious at this time and reject advances and invitations to be a part of any process that breaches Grand Lodge policy."

This was "designed to undermine our cause and erode our human rights as enshrined in European legislation", he said.

'Intend to reapply'

Mr Saulters said he wanted the Twelfth of July celebrations to be a peaceful and enjoyable day for everyone.

"The Orange Order poses no threat to anyone; others must learn to give us the space and time to celebrate our rich heritage, in a peaceful, calm, atmosphere free from threats of violence, intimidation or attempts to deny us our civil and religious liberties," he said.

The meetings involving Mr Mawhinney were regarded as confidential and chaired by Duncan Morrow, the chief executive of the Community Relations Council.

They discussed the plans for the Whiterock Parade - including security, music, flags and the size of the march.

While progress was made - no agreement was reached.

That led to the Parades Commission's decision to re-route the march through the old Mackie's factory site.

The Orange Order said that was unacceptable and postponed the march - but they intend to reapply in order to hold it some time later this summer.

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