Confusion over Orange position on talks…

CHRIS Thornton continues to track the heated argument within Orangism concerning the recent parade negotiations in Derry involving Orangemen and republican community representatives. Rev Brian Kennaway has said members of Grand Lodge, the Order’s central leadership, “had already approved of and encouraged” the talks with residents’ groups in Londonderry and Belfast – even though the talks were later criticised by the Order’s Grand Master.The Tele reported:

In their July 1 statement, Mr [Robert] Saulters [the Orange Grand Master] and Mr [Stephen] Dickinson [the Deputy] said they were “dismayed” by the reports of talks involving Orangemen and residents in Derry and Belfast.

They said they were “disturbed” by the meetings, and “regret that members got involved in such meetings”.

In his statement, Mr Kennaway said it was “an undeniable fact” that Orange leaders were aware of the meetings.

He added that “the Senior Officers of Grand Lodge had already approved of and encouraged such talks”.

Mr Kennaway did not elaborate, but sources have told the Belfast Telegraph that the meetings were raised at a Grand Lodge meeting in June.

If those Orangemen who participated in those talks involving nationalists did so without technically breaching Grand Lodge policy AND with the foreknowledge and approval “of Senior Officers of Grand Lodge”, then the leader of the Orange Order and his Deputy are at odds with their own Officers. Who is in charge here? Why the change of heart from Saulters, if he knew about the talks in advance?

(More on this previously here.)