Northern Ireland

Orange order denies change in Parades Commission policy

Edward Stevenson
Image caption Edward Stevenson wrote to the commission on Tuesday

The Orange Order has denied it has changed its policy of refusing to recognise the Parades Commission.

It follows the decision of the Grand Master Edward Stevenson to write to the commission asking it to review music restrictions placed on a parade in east Belfast on 12 July.

The letter related to a march by Ballymacarrat District LOL No.6.

It was originally told only a single drumbeat could accompany the parade past a section of the Newtownards Road.

That decision has now been reviewed by the commission.

Instead the bands will be allowed to play hymns from the memorial garden to Susan Street.

Commission sources said it is the first time a grand master had written to the commission under such circumstances.

The Grand Lodge refuses to recognise the commission, however, Mr Stevenson said writing a letter was within policy.

Speaking at the annual Orange parade in Rossnowlagh, County Donegal he said the decision did not indicate a "softening of stance".

He said it was done to try to ease tension in east Belfast.

A Grand Lodge spokesman added that the Parades Commission had totally failed to grasp the hurt its decision had caused and the Orangemen of east Belfast reiterated their call for the commission to go.

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