The Orange Order has invited the man who is chairing talks on divisive issues including parades to visit Twaddell protest camp and Drumcree in Portadown.
American diplomat Richard Haass is due back in Northern Ireland later this month for a second round of meetings on flags, parading and dealing with the past.
Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Edward Stevenson, has extended an open invitation to Dr Haass to visit both Twaddell and Drumcree where, Mr Stephenson said, members’ “legitimate right to express their culture and heritage have been unjustly curtailed”.
The Order has held a weekly protest at Drumcree since their parade was banned from walking down the mainly nationalist Garvaghy Road in 1998.
Since July 12 this year loyalists have manned a ‘civil rights’ protest camp at Twaddell Avenue after their parade was prevented from completing its route past the Ardoyne shops.
Earlier this year PUP leader Billy Hutchinson said it was unhelpful to draw comparisons between the protests at Drumcree and Twaddell.
“People looking at Drumcree draw certain conclusions, this is different, this is Belfast,” he said.
“I think if you compare the two, people will draw comparisons about what happened at Drumcree. This is about walking up an arterial route, not a nationalist area.”
Speaking about the invite to Dr Haass Mr Stevenson said hearing the views of Order members is “essential” in finding a resolution.
“As part of his consultation exercise on the parading issue, we believe it is absolutely essential that Dr Haass hears directly the concerns of our members who are continuing to be denied their civil and religious liberties in Portadown and north Belfast,” he said.
“In both locations, brethren have shown willingness and initiative in their desire to resolve the impasse concerning their respective traditional parades. However, due to the actions of a vindictive Parades Commission; a lack of republican tolerance and the consistent denial of shared space, their legitimate right to express their culture and heritage have been unjustly curtailed.
“As the three Ligoniel lodges approach 100 days of peaceful protest and Portadown District maintain their long-standing weekly presence at Drumcree, it is imperative the Haass initiative aids a fair and equitable resolution to these matters.”
On Dr Haass’ October visit Mr Stevenson joined other members of the Order in a meeting with Dr Haass where they presented their preliminary submission on parading.
The Order will also make separate submissions on flags and dealing with the past, it is understood.