Ex-Alliance man to polish Orange image

 

A former alliance councillor for the nationalist Falls Road in west Belfast, Mr Will Glendinning, has taken on the task of helping to improve the Orange Order's general community relations and its public image, the Irish Times has learnt.

With the North's marching season about to crank into gear after Easter, it is hoped that Mr Glendinning's engagement with the Orange Order will facilitate greater cross-community understanding and empathy for the traditions of the order.

As outgoing head of the Community Relations Council in the North he has already been involved in work with the loyal orders and was supportive of the successful efforts of the Apprentice Boys in Derry in defusing nationalist/unionist tensions over the annual August Relief of Derry march.

Mr Glendinning will have no mediation function over controversial parades such as Drumcree. It is expected, however, that he will try to apply some of the lessons learnt from the Apprentice Boys in Derry to lay the foundations for the possible resolution of such disputes.

A central feature of the Apprentice Boys' approach was to highlight the positive elements of their tradition and organise a city festival around the period of the annual parade, thus helping to win considerable cross-community support for the march.

Mr Glendinning was a Falls Road councillor in nationalist west Belfast during the late 1970s and 1980s but has nonetheless succeeded in winning initial support from the Orange Order for this three-year project, funded by the charity Atlantic Philanthropies, according to Orange and other sources.

A senior Orange figure said he was confident Mr Glendinning's previous politics would not have any adverse effect on his relationship with the order. "I think the Order will be receptive to this enterprise," he said.