The loyal orders met the Secretary of State yesterday ahead of an emergency Orange meeting where its rank and file leadership met to discuss plans for protests over parade restrictions.
The meeting with Theresa Villiers came against a backdrop of widespread tension over restrictions stopping Saturday’s north Belfast parade passing the Ardoyne shops on the Twelfth evening and associated responses planned by all unionist parties.
During the talks with Ms Villiers. Orange Grand Master Edward Stevenson and Royal Black Sovereign Grand Master Millar Farr requested a meeting with the Prime Minister “to make him aware of their strongly held view that the current regulatory system for parades is undermining democracy in Northern Ireland”.
The Order will hold a press conference this morning about the meeting, where county and district leaders discussed protest plans.
DUP MP Nigel Dodds yesterday called on David Cameron to join condemnation of the Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective’s threat to use “radical means” and the deputy First Minister’s talk of “catastrophe”.
On Tuesday the Executive parties agreed a statement calling for all parades and protests to be lawful.
But, in an indication of strains within unionism, the TUV yesterday hit back, saying the statement was made with those who have attempted to stop the Ardoyne Parade and who “tore” the Union Flag from City Hall.
Also yesterday, Alliance MLAs Chris Lyttle and Stewart Dickson met the Chief Constable and called on all parties to “give their full support to the police” in the coming days.