Posted By: July 25, 2013

Newt Emerson. Irish News ( Belfast). Thursday, July 25, 2013
The issue of parading was solved three weeks ago when Belfast Orangemen talked to
Ardoyne residents just before the Twelfth. Belfast's County Grand Lodge described
the talks as "historic". The principle of talking to residents was thus formally
conceded by the staunchest of brethren at the knottiest of flashpoints. everything
we have witnessed since is just a jostling for position around the inevitable

The Parades Commission, imposed by Westminster in 1998, will be replaced with a
Continuity Parades Commission appointed by Stormont.

There will be a statutory code of conduct for marchers and protesters, contentious
parades will require dialogue and where dialogue fails legally binding restrictions
will be applied.

This was the gist of the draft parading legislation agreed by the DUP and Sinn Fein
in 2010 and subsequently rejected by the Orange Order.

The DUP and Sinn Fein still hold that draft up as a model and it will be the
starting point for the five-party talks on parading chaired by US diplomat Richard
haass, which the Orange Order has agreed to participate in "willingly and actively".

It might seem that the Orange Order has entered those talks to negotiate a better
outcome but there can be no substantially different outcome. "We will get rid of the
Parades Commission," Orange chaplain Rev Mervyn Gibson has declared. however, some
kind of adjudication body (the 2010 legislation called it a 'panel') will have to be
created and it will have to curtail any notions of a fundamental right to march.

The Orange Order's enthusiasm for the Haass initiative looks like spinning defeat as
victory. Weekly protests in north Belfast serve the same purpose. After Belfast
Orangemen talked at Ardoyne there was much republican suspicion of a ploy to coerce
the Parades Commission into allowing a limited parade.

While Orangemen may have had that hope, the Ardoyne talks also helped to spin
looming defeat as victory.

Next year, Belfast Orangemen can say "we talked last year and the Parades Commission
slapped us in the face but the new system recognises our efforts". This will save
them the embarrassment of admitting the new system simply forces them to talk.

The Orange Order is not alone in trying to claim kudos for the inevitable.

The PUP welcomed the pre-Twelfth talks with Ardoyne residents, expressed outrage
that the talks did not sway the Parades Commission and is now calling for the
commission to be "dissolved". It is also taking credit for the switch to peaceful
protest in north Belfast, not that it is taking any responsibility for the initial
rioting. The grassroots rustling of the PUP explains why Orangemen agreed to talks
in Ardoyne and with haass in the first place. Although still a shadow of its former
self, the PUP is resurgent enough to threaten the DUP.

Since Peter Robinson's misstep last summer, when he co-signed a letter

condemning the Parades Commission, the DUP has suffered one crisis of legitimacy
after another in loyalist areas.

A bad end to the 2012 marching season was followed by the Ulster Covenant disaster
and the flag protests, with the PUP seizing every opportunity to exploit

The PUP may have few electoral prospects but it could swing or deter enough voters
to do significant damage to the DUP, especially in Belfast.

Getting a grip on parading, plus the question of flags, which will also be addressed
by haass, has become a critical problem for the DUP. Getting the credit for solving
these issues, complete with Orange plaudits for doing so, would be a huge political

The DUP met with Belfast's Orangemen before they talked at Ardoyne and with the
Orange Order before it agreed to talk to haass. The ensuing Orange march to a DUP
tune can hardly be coincidental.

Persuading the Orange Order to go down the talks route may not have been that

Before everything went wrong last summer, a last-minute parading deal in Crumlin and
a sullenly observed set of Parades Commission restrictions in Ardoyne showed a final
settlement was tantalisingly close.

When we talk about the DUP, the Orange Order and loyalism, we are not talking about
three separate worlds.

To the extent that their membership overlaps, their agendas overlap and that leaves
plenty of scope for political machinations.

During the Twelfth rioting in north Belfast Orange Order supporters did 'The
Bouncy', a Rangers chant where everyone jumps up and down. "Bouncy! Bouncy! Bouncy!"
they shouted as they headed into battle, little thinking they might all have been