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Last Updated: Saturday, 18 February 2006, 16:37 GMT
Parades policy decision deferred
The Parades Commission rules on contentious marches
The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland has held a special meeting in Belfast to discuss its policy on parades.

Officials said the debate included whether or not the Order should engage with the Parades Commission.

Despite unofficial contacts, and one meeting of individual members with the Parades Commission, the policy of the Order is not to engage with the body.

A number of proposals were put forward and a decision is expected when the Grand Lodge meets again on 11 March.

The four-hour meeting was held in an east Belfast Orange hall.

Many would like to change the policy of the Orange Order, but that may depend on a government commitment to review the framework on which the commission works.

However, the last review three years ago changed little.

If a commitment to change the commission is forthcoming, there could be some engagement prior to this summer's marching season.

Views at Grand Lodge are known to be diverse and any vote could easily go either way.


But it is understood there is a recognition that the make-up and approach of the new commission - which now includes two Orangemen - is very different from any that went before.

The Orange Order members of the commission are David Burrows and Don MacKay, who are members of the Portadown lodge which wants to parade along the Garvaghy Road - a mainly nationalist area.

Orangemen last walked down the Garvaghy Road from a church service at Drumcree Parish Church in July 1997.

However, the Parades Commission has since banned them from parading down the road following objections by nationalist residents.

The commission was set up in 1997 to make decisions on whether or not restrictions should be imposed on controversial parades during Northern Ireland's marching season.

New appointments, including Mr Burrows and Mr MacKay, were made to it in November 2005.

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