Parades: No decision on future tactics

Unionist leaders and senior Orange Order figures holding a news conference
Unionist leaders and senior Orange Order figures holding a news conference

One of the much-anticipated details of the “graduated response” pledged by unionists after the barring of the Ardoyne march will be a six-minute stoppage of all main parades on the Twelfth.

The Orange Order’s director of services, Dr David Hume, was asked how this would be seen by the Parades Commission – which often includes a clause in its determinations stating there must be “no undue stoppages”.

“They are the cause of that six-minute delay,” said Dr Hume, adding that “the Parades Commission can take whatever view it likes”.

The News Letter also asked Grand Chaplain the Rev Mervyn Gibson whether, if their tactics fail to change the status quo, the Order would back “flag protest”-style street demonstrations.

“I think unionism together, both political unionism, the loyal orders and the community are looking at various forms of protest,” he said.

“What we’ve said from the very start is that any protests we’ll be taking part in must be lawful and they must be peaceful ... no decisions have been taken as to exactly how that will happen in five months’ time or six months’ time.

“We want to take each step and see what the response is from the Secretary of State and others to what we’re proposing and saying.”

Echoing Rev Gibson, PUP leader Billy Hutchinson said it was a case of waiting for the Secretary of State to respond, but added: “I don’t think we want to be calling mass demonstrations every week, but we have to wait and see whenever that confronts us.”

Mr Hutchinson said he expects a response from the Secretary of State before Parliament goes into recess on July 22, but was unwilling to put a definite deadline on it.