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28 July 2017

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Mediator takes issue with Dunloy Orange Order’s complaint over parade

The Mediation Network had indicated the willingness of local residents to accommodate three parades a year

A LIFELONG member of the Orange Order and historian who is a former member of the Parades Commission has challenged a complaint by Dunloy Orangemen that they are being denied their right to march in the County Antrim village by nationalist opposition.

Brian Kennaway, a Presbyterian minister and author of The Orange Order: A Tradition Betrayed wrote to the Belfast News Letter in response to comments by John Finlay, Worshipful Master of LOL 496 on 12 July under the heading “Our dismay at the denial of our liberties in Dunloy”.

John Finlay (a DUP councillor) issued a much stronger statement online railing against the Parades Commission as a “failed quango” that “seems intent on pandering to threats from militant republicans”.

In his letter to the News Letter, though,he wrote:

“I wish to place on record our disgust, anger and dismay that, yet again, we are being denied our democratic right to peacefully exercise our civil and religious liberties.”

The Dunloy Orange Order spokesperson added:

“We are greatly frustrated and saddened that there are those in our community who, while they speak endlessly about equality and human rights, display only contempt for us.

“Their intolerance is such that they will not allow their Protestant neighbours to walk in the village on this key day in the marching season.

“We are further frustrated and saddened by the willingness of the Parades Commission to keep pandering to that intolerance and to keep appeasing those who threaten opposition to our traditional parade.”

But the Worshipful Master has been reminded by a fellow Orangeman that this ain’t necessarily so.

Brian Kennaway replied that Reverend Dr Warren Porter joined with him and County Antrim officers, on their invitation, on the evening of 13 December 1996 and met with members of Dunloy Orange lodge “to offer guidance and help”.

Brian Kennaway continued:

The result of that meeting, which was attended by Mr Finlay, was a unanimous decision to negotiate through Mediation Network, who had indicated the willingness of local residents to accommodate three parades a year.

While this agreement was betrayed by local politics and pressure from ‘The Spirit of Drumcree’, had the Dunloy lodge stood by their decision of 13 December 1996, there would have been no opposition to three parades a year.

I can well recall Mr Finlay, accompanied by Ian Paisley, standing outside police headquarters in 1997 stating: “We will sort Dunloy.”

It has not been sorted yet!

Brian Kennaway concluded his response:

The fault lies not with the Parades Commission (which did not come into existence until 1997) but with the inability of the Dunloy Lodge members to keep their word.

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