The Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Ireland, Drew Nelson, has commended Orangemen throughout the Province for staging around 60 “peaceful protests” against the Parades Commission’s determination regarding Ligoniel brethren at Twelfth events.
Speaking at the weekly Woodvale Road protest on Saturday - as it now enters its second year - Mr Nelson said during the next week “we will be meeting with the Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers, as a Unionist family, and we will be reiterating our position to her in clear terms”.
Mr Nelson said the ongoing protest in north Belfast - which started in July 2013 after the Parades Commission determination did not allow Ligoniel Orangemen to walk home past the Ardoyne shops - “is testament to the determination and fortitude of the wider Orange, unionist and loyalist family to see civil and religious liberty prevail for the Ligoniel brethren”.
“This time last week, we as an Institution, and the wider Protestant community celebrated our cultural heritage as we marked the 324th anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne. Once again Orangeism demonstrated its continuing relevance and appeal, illustrated by the huge numbers of people who attended the various Twelfth demonstrations across Northern Ireland.”
He said on the protests held on the evening of July 12 “in towns and villages right across Northern Ireland” showed not only “a visible and impressive show of solidarity with the Ligoniel brethren; but also an indication of the strength of feeling within Orangeism against the Parades Commission and the Public Processions (Northern Ireland) Act 1998, which is an unfair law weighted against Loyal Order parades”.
He added: “No-one should be in any doubt of the Institution’s determination to have this outdated legislation replaced by something which is both fair and equitable.”
He said that further initiatives “in our ongoing campaign to make Northern Ireland a better place by getting rid of the Parades Commission will be unveiled in due course”. “Let there be no mistake – there is now a unity of purpose amongst our people which I believe will produce results,” he said