Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness today said that people across the north who want to see a resolution to the Ulster Covenant parade will be extremely disappointed at the outcome of last night’s meeting between the Orange Order, loyalists and unionist politicians.
Speaking today Mr McGuinness said:
“In common with everyone who wants to see a resolution to the issue of the Ulster Covenant Parade in Belfast I wanted to hear a very clear indication from last night’s meeting that the Orange Order were prepared to sit down and engage with the residents of Carrickhill.
“That did not happen, instead what we got was a reiteration of the previous position refusing dialogue and an attempt to pressurise the Parades Commission in advance of their determination. This is disrespectful to both residents and parishioners.
“Yesterday I met both the Carrickhill Residents and Fr Sheehan. It is clear that they want to see a situation where St Patrick’s church and the local residents are respected and treated with dignity on the 29th. The Orange Order, who are organising the parade need to sit down directly and talk to the residents whose community they are seeking to march through.
“That is a reasonable request. We are almost 20 years into a peace process, which has been based upon dialogue and engagement with people who hold a different viewpoint. The position of refusing to talk is simply not tenable as we seek to achieve resolutions to contentious parades. The Orange Order are the only grouping in society here who consistently refuse to engage with their neighbours as a matter of policy."