by MARY MAGEE
A letter of protest about the Parades Commission determination is read by the Orange Order to the PSNI at the field. US2912.163A0
A DEAL struck between the Orange Order and residents which allowed the 12th Parade to pass off successfully in the village last Thursday has been hailed as a 'template' for the future.
There had been fears of tension around the day after the Parades Commission ruled that while the 50 Orange Lodges, 4,000 participants and up to 6,000 supporters from seven districts could parade through Crumlin in the morning, only the host Glenavy District would be allowed to walk the return route.
But on Wednesday an agreement was reached between Crumlin Residents Association and the Orange Order over protests, the flying of flags, emblems streamers and - banners. Tricolours were taken down throughout the village and replaced with bunting for the day and three 'non offensive' protest banners were erected.
Sinn Féin MIA for South Antrim Mitchel McLaughlin praised the Orange Order for agreeing to meet the residents and 'sign up to an agreement to alleviate the fears and anxiety of the residents in Crumlin'.
"I also acknowledge and welcome the unilateral decision taken individually by six Orange districts, who were not permitted on the return route, to make their protest directly to the PSNI at the field and then to board buses to return to their eventual destinations and complete their march. I believe that this mature gesture made a significant contribution to the overall peaceful outcome.
The face to face talks were significant and achieved much that can form the basis on which we can build on the excellent community relations that have existed in the village of Crumlin for a very long time.
"I believe that those districts where distrust and contention still exist should take the approach of the Crumlin Residents and the local Orange leadership on board. We now have an opportunity to build on this which should be grasped and built on."
James Tinsley, from the host Glenavy District, said the day went well and despite the earlier concerns the only worry they had was the weather.
"What happened took a lot of tension away and allow it to bé a truly enjoyable and memorable day" he said. "Peopl were able to relax and I am just glad everything went well.
Each other's culture was facilitated and there was a lot more tolerance and healing which took place. I think we can build upon that with community relations to cater for everyone. It was a very good outcome. "
A spokesperson for the Crumlin Residents Association said that direct dialogue was the key.
"This result did not come out of a vacuum," said the spokesperson. "There was a lot of hard work that took place on behalf of the residents of this village to ensure that the rights- and the safety of those who live. in Crumlin were respected and upheld.
"The Crumlin Residents Association met with residents, traders, the
PSNI and others.
Most significantly we had face to face talks with the Orange Order which did help to alleviate concerns surrounding the march and agreement was reached on some issues.
"This process of dialogue we believe needs to be revisited in the coming weeks in order to further improve relations in this area. It was dialogue that help us manage and diffuse as tense situation and it is dialogue that will help us to reach a resolution to outstanding issues."
Justice Minister David Ford said that agreement reached over the Crumlin parade demonstrated what can be achieved through positive engagement.
"I would once again urge those with influence to follow the lead taken and continue to work to reduce tensions where they exist," he said.