Orange leader: Parades Commission impeded progress on Twaddell

Secretary of State James Brokenshire meeting Orange Grand Master Edward Stevenson

Secretary of State James Brokenshire meeting Orange Grand Master Edward Stevenson

The Orange Order’s dissatisfaction with the Parades Commission formed much of the discussion between its senior leadership and the new Northern Ireland secretary as they met for the first time.

James Brokenshire, Conservative MP for Old Bexley and Sidcup, had a face-to-face meeting with Grand Master Edward Stevenson and a delegation of other Orange figures at Stormont House in east Belfast.

The Order said that “parades and associated legislation, and ongoing attacks on Orange halls, were among the issues raised”.

It was the Order’s first encounter with Mr Brokenshire since he took up the post from Theresa Villiers, two days after the Twelfth this year.

Mr Stevenson said in a statement: “During our meeting, we urged the secretary of state to maximise the new opportunity created by the recent resolution to the Crumlin Road impasse in north Belfast [also known as the Twaddell dispute].

“We reminded Mr Brokenshire the outworkings of this agreement took place in spite of the Parades Commission, whose actions only served to impede progress...

“As the power to change the existing parading legislation is a reserved matter, we underlined to the secretary of state of his responsibilities regarding new laws relating to parades and protests, which must be fair and equitable to all communities.”

He added that “protestors and objectors should not be treated any more favourably than parade organisers”.