Northern Ireland news

Orange Order: 'Unnecessary restrictions' placed on parades

Secretary of State Karen Bradley meeting a delegation of senior Orangemen at Stormont House

ORANGE Order leaders have told the secretary of state "unnecessary restrictions" are being placed on loyal order parades across the north.

The order's leadership met Karen Bradley at Stormont House this afternoon - their first meeting since she became secretary of state in January.

Speaking after the discussion, Orange grand master Edward Stevenson said the order had emphasised the need for new parading legislation.

He said any new laws "must be fair and equitable to all communities". 

"We reminded Mrs Bradley of the inadequacies of the current Parades Commission, whose actions continue to impede progress," he said.

Mr Stevenson hit out at recent commission rulings, including ongoing restrictions on a loyalist parade in Whiterock in Belfast, due to take place this weekend. The ruling prevents marchers from passing through the peace line at Workman Avenue.

The senior Orangeman described the Whiterock ruling as "nonsensical" and also criticised the ongoing impasse in the Dumcree dispute "as well as unnecessary restrictions being placed on numerous other Loyal Order processions across Northern Ireland".

The Orange delegation presented a document to Mrs Bradley which outlined their proposals on parading.

Mr Stevenson added: "We hope she will now demonstrate imaginative leadership by taking a proactive and constructive approach to ensure these issues are settled once and for all".

Mrs Bradley was also invited to the order's headquarters in east Belfast and its heritage museum in Loughgall, Co Armagh.

Leo Varadkar became the first taoiseach to visit the order's headquarters when he made an official visit earlier this month.

His trip was hailed by the order and DUP leader Arlene Foster.

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