A senior member of the Orange Order has said that planning continues for a business-as-usual style Twelfth of July this summer, but a final decision on how to proceed is still some time off.
Rev Mervyn Gibson, grand secretary of the institution, re-iterated that all parades up to the start of summer (June 1) remain cancelled, but sounded a hopeful note about the prospects for a decent marching season in 2021, after the Covid curbs basically killed off the 2020 celebrations.
He suggested that this summer could see more parades than usual, but smaller ones, as a way of adhering to health guidance.
As it stands right now, there are just two parades booked in for the Twelfth on the Parades Commission website (a 35-person Dunmurry Protestant Boys Flute Band march, and a 60-person one by Sir Edward Carson Memorial LOL 1991 / Lisburn Young Defenders Flute Band).
Rev Gibson said advice from the health minister will be sought before they make a decision on the Twelfth sometime in May.
“It’s too far out to say where we are,” he told the News Letter.
“It’ll depend on community transmission, how many people are allowed to gather together. There’s a lot of factors.
“I think it’s fair to say we’re preparing for all eventualities. We hope to see a normal Twelfth but realistically we have to think of maybe smaller numbers in parades; larger number of parades and smaller number in parades is a possibility.
“If the country is in lockdown again, we have to obey that as well. We’re looking at all options.”
He added that “our favoured option is the normal Twelfth as ever, and we are preparing for that… our usual 18 venues around the country”, concluding: “Whatever we do will be health-compliant, for the benefit of all communities in Northern Ireland.”
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