The leaders of the Orange and Loyal orders have had their first-ever formal meeting with the leaders of the Catholic Church in Northern Ireland.
The delegation met Archbishop Seán Brady and other northern bishops at Dr Brady's residence in Armagh at the request of the Loyal orders.
The group consisted of Robert Saulters and Drew Nelson from the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, William Logan and the Rev Tom Greer of the Royal Black Institution, and George Dawson MLA and Mervyn Storey MLA from the Independent Orange Institution.
A spokesman for the Joint Working Group described the meeting as 'a cordial, businesslike and useful exchange of views held in an atmosphere of concern for the coming months which all sides wish to see pass in an entirely peaceful manner'.
Archbishop Brady said the meeting was powerfully symbolic coming at a time when tensions often rise in Northern Ireland.
He said it showed the desire of the leadership of the loyal orders to go beyond the barriers of history and marked a first step that was to be greatly welcomed.
Dr Brady also said that it was ultimately through gestures of friendship and understanding at local level that contentious issues would be resolved.