Today, there was movement, finally.
The First and Deputy First Minister have been holding meetings with all and sundry over the past two days. The head of the PSNI, the other political parties, various churchmen (no Women, mind you) and the Loyal (to whom? the question begs) Orders.
The day started with a very welcome apology from the Royal Black Institution to the clergy and parishoners of St Patricks Catholic Church. This was qualified and belated but is nevertheless progress and should not be underestimated. It is hugely significant. The Black Institution always seemed to me the more progressive organisation and has successfully engaged with the rest of the community in places such as Derry to enable largely peaceful parading over recent years. Of course it was the respective heads of the Presbyterian and Church of Ireland congregations who first “broke ranks” and called this for what it was.
Meanwhile the simmering sinister silence of the Orange Order continues.
The politicians made some positive noises, OK, that’s what they should be doing. Nelson McCauseland has obviously been gagged and tied up somewhere. Nigel Dodds is probably guarding him in the dungeon of an obscure Orange Hall in the depths of Co Antrim.
It is good to see something finally happen and it is likely that the marches to commemorate the Ulster Covenant at the end of the month have focussed minds. The proof, as always, will be in the product. I can’t help wondering how the Republican march to commemorate 1916 will pass off through Belfast in 2016. By then Belfast will be a Nationalist majority city. Nationalists already exceed Unionists demographically in the City.
I trust that Unionists will reciprocate.