A delegation of Catholic clergy met with senior representatives of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland in Belfast today to discuss “shared concerns” as we approach the marching season in the North.
Issues discussed included the Haass proposals, parading, and concerns regarding child poverty and educational underachievement in the province.
Both parties agreed the two-hour meeting was beneficial in terms of developing mutual respect and understanding for both traditions, and committed themselves to further engagement.
Bishop Noel Treanor of Down & Connor led the Church delegation accompanied by Fr Timothy Bartlett, Secretary to the Northern Bishops and Fr Michael Sheehan, Administrator of St Patrick’s Parish, Donegall Street, Belfast.
Last week Fr Sheehanwelcomed a statement from the Orange Order on avoiding the contentious displays of last year by marchers passing the church.
Among the other attendees at the meeting were the Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Edward Stevenson; Deputy Grand Master, Reverend Alistair Smyth; Grand Secretary Drew Nelson; Grand Master of the County Grand Orange Lodge of Belfast, George Chittick; and Director of Services, Dr David Hume.
It is the second time this year the Loyal Order has met formally with Catholic Church representatives in the city, having previously held preliminary discussions along with the Royal Black Institution in February.