The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland has restated its position that traditional Twelfth of July parades will not take place this year.
The parades were formally cancelled by the Orange Institution in April and that position has not changed, despite some recent easing in the Covid-19 guidelines and restrictions.
A spokesman for the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland said: “Medical advice is clear – the risk from Coronavirus is still a very real and present danger to our community. Coronavirus spreads through crowds and therefore anything that brings large crowds onto the street should not take place at this time. From the outset of this pandemic, our position has been consistent – we have sought to protect the health of not only our members, but the whole community in Northern Ireland. Unfortunately, others supposedly in positions of authority, by their recent actions, have not shown the same leadership or concern for public health.
“The recent relaxation of guidelines to allow 30 people to gather outside comes with the specific medical advice that crowds still should not gather. Instead, the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland has actively been promoting its ‘Twelfth at Home’ campaign offering alternative ways to celebrate.
“We note that several bands have indicated their intention to apply for parades within their communities, with no more than 30 members and adhering to the social distancing guidelines for the purpose of entertaining people in their gardens and at their front doors. Bands have rightly asked members of the public not to follow them. Instead, they have encouraged a ‘stay at home’ message with the band bringing music to them. This is a model the Institution would support as it compliments our ‘Twelfth at Home’ campaign.
The spokesman added: “We will shortly be meeting the Chief Medical Officer for Northern Ireland, Dr Michael McBride, to discuss matters relating to the Institution, both in respect of meetings and parades later in the year.”