An Alliance delegation led by Party Leader David Ford has had discussions on issues surrounding parades with representatives from the Orange Order, Black Institution and Independent Orange Order. Also taking part were Deputy Leader Naomi Long, Chief Whip Kieran McCarthy and Larne Alderman John Mathews.
Following the meeting, David Ford said: “Alliance was pleased to host a meeting with the three Loyal Orders a part of their ongoing discussions on parades. We welcome the engagement of these groups with wider society.
“Alliance supported the establishment of the Parades Commission. The history of parades in recent years shows that a body is required to remove the responsibility for making decisions from the police, leaving them the duty of enforcing determinations. However, we are willing to discuss possible changes to the management of parades if this will improve the situation on the ground.
“There is clearly much work to be done by the Orders. If they hope for a full engagement with other groups, it would be helpful if they were willing to spell out their ideas in detail. But it is clear that there are ideas to be developed regarding issues such as shared space.
“It is also reasonable to consider whether parades with a record of good behaviour and which are non-contentious should be allowed a simpler application procedure. This would allow more resources to be devoted to the determination of the small minority of parades which cause genuine concern.
“Alliance believes that more needs to be done to remove the apparent connections between the Orange Order and paramilitary groups in some areas, particularly in Greater Belfast. We suggested that there are issues to address concerning the registration of bands. We also told the representatives that we believe that they should engage with the Parades Commission on general matters, even if they were not willing to discuss specific parades.
“If members of the Loyal Orders are now prepared to engage with representatives of the whole community to discuss parades in an open and transparent way, I hope that others will be prepared to follow suit to consider the whole range of issues.”