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DUP and Orange Order hit out at EasyJet's Twelfth apology

EasyJet apologised for a feature in its in-flight magazine which recommended that visitors watch the Twelfth demonstrations

A DUP MLA and Orangeman has accused easyJet of an "outrageous overreaction" after the airline apologised for promoting the Twelfth demonstrations.

The budget airline apologised after a blogger from the north complained about an article in its in-flight magazine which recommended the annual loyal order parades.

But a DUP MLA and the Orange Order hit out at the apology.

A short piece in easyJet's Traveller magazine, which also recommended places to eat in Belfast, described the marches as "colourful parades".

It added: "They're great to watch, just check ahead for travel disruptions and advice."

However, easyJet complained after blogger Sammy McNally complained that the marches were "sectarian".

"Parades which have a significant sectarian element and which are overtly political in nature are not suitable to be recommended to tourists unless the ethnic, political and religious context of the parades is also made clear," he said.

easyJet said it appreciated the "sensitivities around the event and apologise for it not being spotted at our normally rigorous editorial sign-off".

However, North Belfast MLA, the DUP's William Humphrey, said the apology had "caused great offence".

The Orangeman is working with the Order's Grand Lodge to demand an explanation.

"The decision by easyJet to remove an article which highlights and promotes the tourist potential of 12th July parades is an outrageous overreaction to one complaint from a blogger," he said.

He added: "easyJet must give a full explanation about why they took this decision and the statement that they will not include any such recommendation in the future".

"I will be particularly interested to hear exactly what their “rigorous editorial sign-off” processes actually are and how these mean that 12th July parades cannot be spoken of," he said.

Mr Humphrey asked the airline to clarify reports that the writer of the article, who is from the north, will no longer be employed by the magazine.

Senior Orangemen Dr David Hume said easyJet's response was "hurtful" to members.

"I'm just appalled that they have taken this decision on the basis of one person making this sort of complaint," he said.

He added: "I think a lot of people will see it as a demonization of the Orange Order."

This year's Twelfth demonstrations saw rioting in north Belfast.

Trouble flared after hundreds of loyalists gathered near the interface between Ardoyne and Twaddell Avenue as Orangemen returned from the main Twelfth of July demonstration.

Petrol bombs, paint bombs and other missiles were thrown at police who blocked the route of the Orangemen who the Parades Commission had banned from passing nationalist homes in Ardoyne.

Six years ago, easyJet was forced to withdraw 300,000 copies of its in-flight magazine following complaints that Holocaust memorial sites in Berlin had been used as a backdrop for a fashion feature.

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