The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee has agreed
to the following Report:
THE PARADES COMMISSION
1. Controversies over public processions and parades
in Northern Ireland are not new. Neither is controversy restricted
to parades associated with one particular view point. For substantial
periods in the nineteenth century, all parades in Ireland were
prohibited by law.
2. It was controversy concerning parades and protests
against them in Portadown in the summer of 1996 which led to the
establishment by the Government of an independent review of parades
and marches. The review team, chaired by Dr Peter North, reported
in January 1997.
One of the principal recommendations of the report was the establishment
of a Parades Commission which, amongst other functions, would
have the power in respect of contentious parades, where mediation
had failed, to issue determinations imposing conditions on the
parade in question.
3. The Government subsequently brought forward legislation
to establish a non-departmental public body to be known as the
Parades Commission for Northern Ireland, and to amend the law
more generally in relation to public processions there. The Commission
had, however, been established on a non-statutory basis on 27
March 1997, acquiring its statutory functions when the Public
Processions (Northern Ireland) Act 1998 entered into force on
16 February 1998.
4. The Public Processions (Northern Ireland) Act
1998 formally established the Parades Commission and made statutory
provision for the Commission to issue a Code of Conduct, procedural
rules and guidelines. The Act provides for drafts of each of these
to be subject to Parliamentary approval before coming into effect.
The versions currently in force were approved by the House on
19 July 1999. The Commission was given power to impose conditions
on public processions while having regard to the guidelines. We
describe further the functions of the Commission in paragraph
17 below. The Act also introduced a number of changes and extensions
of the law in relation to the regulation of public processions.
5. The establishment of the Parades Commission was
not universally welcomed and the Orange Order, in particular,
has consistently declined to engage with it. In October 1999,
the Secretary of State announced that she was asking officials
to examine, within the established framework of legal and administrative
arrangements, ways of achieving greater acceptance of the approach
to handling contentious parades. The outcome of the review was
announced in February 2000, at the same time as the appointment
of the new Chairman and members of the Commission. We consider
further the outcome of the review in paragraph 69 below.
6. As a non-departmental public body, the members
of which are appointed by the Secretary of State, the Parades
Commission is fully within our remit. In March 2000, we therefore
decided to conduct an inquiry into the Commission with the following
terms of reference:
"To examine the operation
of the Parades Commission since its inception and to consider,
within the existing framework of law and structures and in the
light of the conclusions of the Northern Ireland Office's review
of the Commission, how its effectiveness might be enhanced."
7. For this inquiry, we were keen to get as wide
a range a cross-section as possible of views on the operations
of the Commission. We made extensive efforts to ensure that as
wide a range as possible of the relevant interests, on all sides,
had the opportunity to contribute to our proceedings. We are most
grateful to the many who have done so.
8. In using expressions such as 'loyalist' and 'nationalist',
we have throughout employed the descriptors used by witnesses,
but we allude further to these descriptors in relation to the
table in paragraph 29.
9. We took oral evidence on nine occasions. Beside
the Commission, oral evidence was taken from representatives of
the following organisations:
- Apprentice Boys of Derry
- Bogside Residents' Group
- Democratic Dialogue
- Loyal Orange Institution of Ireland
- Mediation Network for Northern Ireland
- Portadown District Loyal Orange Lodge No. 1
- Royal Ulster Constabulary.
We also took oral evidence from the Rt Hon Adam Ingram,
JP, MP, Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office, Northern Ireland
Office officials and the Rt Hon David Trimble, MLA, MP.
10. Besides those giving oral evidence, written evidence
was received from:
- Archbishop Robin Eames, Archbishop of Armagh
and Primate of all Ireland
- Committee on the Administration of Justice
- Community Relations Council
- Democratic Unionist Party
- Equality Commission for Northern Ireland
- Imperial Grand Black Chapter of the British Commonwealth
- Independent Loyal Orange Institution
- Lower Ormeau Concerned Community
- Mr Christopher Luke
- Mr Richard Monteith, LLB
- Mr Austen Morgan, LLB
- Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission
- Northern Ireland Unionist Party
- Northern Ireland Women's Coalition
- Presbyterian Church in Ireland
- Sinn Fein
- Mr William Thompson, MP
- Ulster Bands Association
11. We would like to thank all those who have contributed
to the evidence, written and oral, that we have received. Besides
taking evidence, we visited Northern Ireland on 12 July 2000,
specifically to see some of the parades held on that day and to
see, at first hand, their impact on the local communities.
THE STATUTORY FRAMEWORK
12. The Public Processions (Northern Ireland) Act
1998 imposes four specific duties
on the Commission:
- to promote greater understanding by the general
public of issues concerning public processions;
- to promote and facilitate mediation as a means
of resolving disputes concerning public processions;
- to keep itself generally informed as to the conduct
of public processions and protest meetings; and
- to keep under review, and make such recommendations
as it thinks fit, to the Secretary of State concerning the operation
of this Act.
In addition, as already mentioned, the Commission
has a statutory obligation to issue a Code of Conduct, procedural
rules and a set of guidelines concerning the exercise of its powers
to impose conditions on public processions.
It also has powers:
- to facilitate mediation between parties to particular
disputes concerning proposed public processions and take such
other steps as appear to the Commission to be appropriate for
resolving such disputes; and
- to issue determinations in respect of particular
proposed public processions.
In connection with the duties and powers described
above, the Commission may, with the approval of the Secretary
of State, provide financial or other assistance to any person
or body on such terms and conditions as it may determine, and
it may commission research.
13. A person proposing to organise a public procession
is required to give notice to an officer in the Royal Ulster Constabulary
(RUC) not below the rank of sergeant, at the police station nearest
to the proposed starting place of that procession, not less than
28 days (or if that is not reasonably practicable, as soon as
is reasonably practicable) before the parade. This is done by
completing the prescribed form, Form 11/1. The RUC is required
to forward a copy of the completed form to the Commission immediately.
14. In similar fashion, a person proposing to organise
a related protest meeting with the intention of demonstrating
opposition to the holding of a public procession is required to
give notice in similar fashion not less than 14 days (or if that
is not reasonably practicable, as soon as is reasonably practicable)
before the meeting is to be held. This is done by completing the
prescribed form, Form 11/3. The RUC is required to forward a copy
of the completed form to the Commission immediately.
15. Under section 8 of the Public Processions (Northern
Ireland) Act 1998, the Commission may issue a determination in
respect of a proposed public procession imposing conditions on
the organisers or the participants. A determination, once made,
may be amended or revoked. In considering whether to make a determination,
or what conditions a determination might impose, the Commission
is required to have regard to the guidelines. These are required
in particular to provide for the Commission to have regard to:
- any public disorder or damage to property which
may result from the procession;
- any disruption to the life of the community which
the procession may cause;
- any impact which the procession may have on relationships
within the community;
- any failure of a person of a description in the
guidelines to comply with the Code of Conduct (whether in relation
to the procession in question or any related protest meeting or
in relation to any previous procession or protest meeting); and
- the desirability of allowing a procession customarily
held along a particular route to be held along that route.
The Commission has no powers, however, in relation
to protest meetings. The imposition of conditions on such meetings
is a matter for the RUC under public order legislation.
16. The Commission has no powers to prohibit a public
procession: this is a matter for the Secretary of State.
The Secretary of State may also, on an application made by the
Chief Constable, review a determination by the Commission and
substitute his own judgement.
This then in effect supersedes the Commission determination. However,
the RUC told us
that it has not yet considered it necessary to appeal to the Secretary
of State to review a determination which, it considered, demonstrated
its "broad confidence ... in the system."
THE OPERATION OF THE PARADES COMMISSION
17. The Public Processions (Northern Ireland) Act
1998 provides for the Commission to be a body corporate, consisting
of a chairman and not more than six other members.
Its members are appointed by the Secretary of State. In making
appointments, the Secretary of State is required
"to secure that as far as is practicable the membership of
the Commission is representative of the community in Northern
Ireland." The present Chairman and members were appointed
with effect from 19 February 2000 for a period of two years.
18. The Commission is funded by a grant-in-aid from
the Northern Ireland Office. It is a relatively small organisation,
with an annual budget of around £1 million and a staff of
11 to 12.
19. The composition of the Commission has been controversial
in a number of respects. The Apprentice Boys of Derry (ABOD) were
critical of the fact that neither Chairman of the Commission had
been from Northern Ireland and considered that, as a result, both
lacked relevant experience.
The Garvaghy Road Residents' Coalition sought a judicial review
of the current appointments, primarily on the grounds that they
do not represent the community of Northern Ireland either in terms
of community balance or of gender.
The application was unsuccessful.
There has been criticism that the present Commission does not
contain any members perceived as reflecting the direct interests
of any marching orders. The Equality Commission expressed concern
to us that there were no women on the Commission
and about the possible conclusions that might be drawn therefrom.
Sinn Féin commented
of the previous Commission "Its composition, with an overwhelming
preponderance of people with connections to the RUC and the Unionist
community, has fatally flawed it in the eyes of most nationalists"
and called for the new Commission to be "broadly based and
should include some people who are drawn from working class nationalist
areas and who are sympathetic to Republican politics". A
number of other witnesses also expressed concern about some aspects
of its composition.
20. We appreciate that, in present circumstances,
somebody potentially acceptable to the Loyal Orders might well
become unacceptable by virtue of appointment to the Commission.
Therefore, an improvement in relations between the Loyal Orders
and the Commission is a necessary precursor of such an appointment.
21. The Northern Ireland Office submitted a memorandum
describing the appointment process for the current membership
in some detail, and the difficulties experienced.
It argued that, despite these difficulties "when measured
against what is arguably the most salient division in Northern
Ireland society, the sectarian division, the Commission is representative
of the community in Northern Ireland". It also noted that
the Commissioner for Public Appointments agreed that "we
had made every effort to ensure both that the Commission was representative
of the community, as far as practicable, and had been appointed
22. Although it was unfortunate that the withdrawal
of one candidate for appointment to the Commission, at a very
late stage, upset the balance of the proposed Commission both
in religion and gender, this simply demonstrates the acute shortage
of suitably qualified women candidates and candidates from a Catholic
background who were available for appointment.
23. We recommend that, when the next round of
appointments is due to be made, particular efforts are made to
attract high calibre candidates from sections of the community
which are presently under-represented on the Commission.
24. The Parades Commission described the situation
it was faced with when it took up its statutory role in February
1998 as "entrenched intransigence on both sides, intransigence
which in the past had led to conflict and confrontation .... Unionists
made no secret of their distaste for the legislation which created
the Commission and the Orange Order steadfastly refused to meet
with it.... On the other side, the Commission was castigated by
leaders of some of the higher profile residents groups who, at
different times, feared that it was part of some wider political
conspiracy to link parades to the peace process."
The Commission sees the reason for its existence as the failure
of both sides of the community with diverse cultural, religious
and political traditions and aspirations to achieve agreement
on the ground rules for peaceful co-existence.
25. Besides transferring the responsibility for taking
decisions on parades from the police to the Parades Commission,
the Public Processions (Northern Ireland) Act 1998 broadened the
range of factors to be taken into account in taking decisions.
In particular, the Commission sees a change of emphasis away from
public order to include "important new considerations like
the impact on relations in the community." The Commission
told us that this has been the key element in its judgements in
a majority of cases involving contentious parades.
Judicial decisions have, in its view, confirmed the propriety
of its interpreting 'community' to relate to the wider Northern
Ireland community, as well as the immediate community in which
the parade takes place.
26. The RUC observed
that, since the establishment of the Commission, the proportion
of parades considered to be contentious has increased. In the
period 1992 to 1997, about 0.8% of parades had conditions imposed
on them by the RUC. The corresponding proportion the subject of
determinations by the Commission is 3.9%, a more than fourfold
increase. The RUC attributed this principally to two factors:
the broadening of the factors to be considered in relation to
parades and the establishment, through the Authorised Officers,
of new conduits of communication that previously did not exist,
particularly in relation to some residents' groups.
It conceded also that other factors might be involved, such as
less tolerance of controversial parades, the routine notification
of proposed Orange Order parades along the Garvaghy Road in Portadown,
and intentions on the part of some to exploit the parades issue
27. The Commission describes, as an overall goal,
its wish "to reach a situation in which parades can take
place in an atmosphere of mutual respect."
It considers that "only by dialogue will resolution to contentious
parades be found." In its opinion, direct dialogue represents
the best means of exchanging views and demonstrating due respect
of other interests, but "where such dialogue is problematic
all parties should spare no effort in finding a mutually acceptable
form of communication."
The Commission considers each contentious parade independently
and seeks wherever possible to facilitate local resolution of
28. In seeking to fulfil its overall goal, the Commission
makes clear its view that there is a right to parade, as there
is to protest, "but these rights are not absolute."
It also seeks to ensure that in proposing engagement,
it makes a distinction between 'engaging' and 'seeking permission',
and also seeks to send out a clear message that "those who
oppose parades have no right of veto."
The Commission, in fulfilment of its statutory obligation, seeks,
where appropriate, to promote mediation, although it does not
seek to prescribe the precise form.
THE SCALE AND NATURE OF THE PROBLEM
29. The tables below give data for 1998-99 and 1999-2000,
as supplied by the Parades Commission,
for the number of parades notified and, of those, the numbers
categorised as 'loyalist' or 'nationalist'. In our opinion, the
descriptors 'loyalist' and 'nationalist' run some risk of being
misconstrued. If the Commission are to publish such statistics
regularly, some greater definitional refinement would probably
be desirable. This would also apply to statistics derived from
such data, including analyses of the incidence of route restrictions
and other conditions. The tables also show the numbers of parades
considered by the Commission to be potentially contentious and,
of those, the numbers on which the Commission imposed either route
restrictions or conditions.
· Data not available.
PARADES CONSIDERED BY THE COMMISSION TO
BE POTENTIALLY CONTENTIOUS
|Total potentially contentious parades
In other words, around 10-15% of the totality of
nationalist and loyalist parades are considered by the Commission
to be potentially contentious, and around two thirds of such parades
in 1999-2000 actually attracted either route restrictions or conditions.
30. It is clear from these figures that only a
small proportion of the parades held by loyalists or by nationalists
are considered by the Commission to require either route restrictions
31. In the course of our inquiry, we have sought
to shed further light on the extent to which routes are controversial.
The Loyal Orange Institution of Ireland (Grand Lodge) commented
that there are "something like 295 possibly contentious routes;"
this may have been a reference to the number of contentious parades.
The Commission put the figure for locations where it must consider
contentious parades at "in the region of 30".
The RUC commented that "there are perhaps 12 sites in Northern
Ireland where there are problems" but added "these are
localised problems, but because of the political situation in
Northern Ireland they are capable of having a Province-wide effect."
32. Although the 'parades issue' is frequently seen
as monolithic, sectarian parades, whether loyalist or nationalist,
differ markedly in character, depending on their purpose. The
Mediation Network identified three principal types,
- church parades - parades either preceded or followed
by a church service;
- commemorative parades - parades which commemorate
a particular event, such as 12 July or St Patrick's Day;
- band parades - parades, overwhelmingly in the
loyalist tradition, which include those organised by bands themselves,
frequently for the purpose of raising funds, but also include
a much wider spectrum of events.
The information is available to sustain an analysis
of the extent to which each category of parade is subject to route
restrictions and conditions. We recommend that the Commission
includes an appropriate table in its Annual Reports.
33. Dr Jarman, of Democratic Dialogue, commented
that "the vast majority of parades do not cause offence,
have not historically caused offence and I think there is a considerable
degree of toleration and acceptance of the parades, acceptance
of the disruption." He added "In the early days [residents
groups] were not objecting to all parades, they were objecting
to one or two specific parades. When their objections were not
acknowledged in any way as being legitimate, they tended to escalate."
Mr Hamilton added
that "residents in many areas have made the distinction between
church parades and parades which do not foment the kind of disorder
or disruption that some band parades, for example, might."
Dr Bryan, of Democratic Dialogue, drew attention to changes in
character of particular parades over time, and differences in
character between, for example, town and country parades.
Dr Jarma, also commented that there was nonetheless a perception
within the Nationalist community that "an Orange parade was
an Orange parade and I think that probably still survives to a
34. The causes of controversy over parades vary.
In some cases, the controversy arises because the parade is, in
principle, unwelcome in, or close to, an area with a different
tradition. In others, the conduct of the parade on a previous
occasion may be the root cause. In yet others, the difficulty
may arise over some of the participants: the Mediation Network
pointed out that, on some occasions, the choice of bands can be
a cause of controversy.
The Commission recognised that demographic changes had an impact
on the extent to which parades might be controversial.
It took the view that commercial areas were demographically neutral.
35. Grand Lodge witnesses portrayed their Institution
as sensitive to the concerns of others and willing to compromise.
The Reverend William Bingham cited an example of a parade where
both the band and the music were changed to accommodate local
He was, however, unwilling to accept that the Commission was also
seeking to balance the rights of Orange Order members and the
rights of residents. He commented: "No, I think, absolutely
not ... its emphasis has always been in favour of residents' groups.
I do not think it really has shown any kind of understanding or
sympathy of the Orange Institution."
He also saw the name as one that was "automatically loaded
against one tradition, and that is the Protestant/Orange tradition,
which is a parading tradition."
36. Dr Jarman gave a number of examples of bad behaviour
associated with parades,
as did the Governor of ABOD.
Dr Jarman commented that church parades do not generally cause
too much disruption, and that there was some correlation between
the size of a parade and the disruption caused. Band parades could
be more problematic. In the opinion of Dr Bryan, the problem of
bad behaviour at parades was largely seen as one to do with the
loyalist community, to which a contributing factor might be the
much smaller number of band parades within the nationalist community.
Mr Hamilton saw a greater reliance on the Code of Conduct as a
useful way of tackling bad behaviour.
37. Besides organising their own parades, bands also
feature in church and commemorative parades. Both the Mediation
and the Parades Commission
noted recent improvements in behaviour by bands in parades, and
in a number of cases bands have been excluded from parades by
the Commission on account of previous bad behaviour. Grand Lodge
and the ABOD
told us that they had also taken action, in relation to their
own parades, on this score.
THE APPROACH OF THE LOYAL ORDERS
38. We took oral evidence from Grand Lodge, from
Portadown Loyal Orange Lodge No. 1 and from the ABOD. Written
evidence was received from the Independent Loyal Orange Institution
(ILOL) Constitutional Affairs Committee,
and from the Imperial Grand Black Chapter of the British Commonwealth
39. None of these bodies supported the existence
of the Parades Commission. ILOL objected to the "interference
of an outside body in our parades because we are a religious body,
not subject to political influence."
It considered that the Commission "has failed to deliver
on transparency, consistency and professionalism. It has become
a factory of grievances adding to, and not helping to solve, local
ABOD did not consider that the Commission could be changed so
as to make it more acceptable to the loyal orders.
40. Grand Lodge considered the Commission "an
unelected quango allegedly accountable to no one for the decisions
it makes" and described the legislation under which it operates
as "legislation which in our opinion fundamentally undermines
basic human rights of freedom of assembly and freedom of movement".
It accused the Commission of failing to abide by its own procedural
rules and described the Commission and the legislation as a "law
breakers charter", as "Inevitably ... the Commission
will issue determinations based on the possible violent reaction
of others to parades."
Grand Lodge maintained that the power to issue determinations
meant that the legislation "is perceived as being one sided",
given the greater significance of parades, measured numerically,
to the Protestant/Unionist community and set out, with examples,
six specific areas where it considered that the operations of
the Commission were deficient.
41. As we have pointed out earlier, the present policy
of Grand Lodge is not to engage at all with the Commission. The
Grand Master told us that there was very considerable opposition
to any change of policy regarding engagement with the Commission.
The Reverend William Bingham saw the Commission as "irredeemable".
42. ABOD emphasised the cultural role of the organisation
and its significance to the Protestant minority in Londonderry.
43. It is the policy of ABOD to engage with the Commission
although it considers that it would be more appropriate for the
RUC to deal with public order issues relating to parades.
44. A particular sticking point with the Grand Lodge
over engagement is that "if you meet the Parades Commission,
their bottom line is that you have to meet with Sinn Féin
residents, and there are a number of brethren up around the country
who just would not meet with Sinn Fein."
ABOD commented that, in its experience, some residents groups
are reluctant to get an agreement, which at the end of the day
has led to a determination unfavourable to the Apprentice Boys.
ABOD considered that this left the residents groups with no incentive
to engage in meaningful negotiations.
45. The Commission commented "There is a refusal
on the part of the loyal orders ... to involve themselves with
the Commission directly, and that obviously makes it difficult
Mediation Network witnesses saw the lack of engagement as "the
biggest single inhibition" to the development of the work
of the Authorised Officers to date.
Dr Jarman, of Democratic Dialogue, saw the failure of the loyal
orders to engage with the Commission as having seriously disadvantaged
them in tactical terms. He commented:
"If ever you did see
that there were two choices, for a positive tactic or a negative
tactic to be taken, I think the Loyalists by and large have taken
the negative tactic and taken the worst view, the worst approach
they possibly could. If they were prepared to grasp the situation
and confront the residents groups, they would find themselves
in a much stronger position. I think the failure to take up the
challenge and to refuse to meet and to engage has given the residents
groups greater opportunity to move the issue further into their
court than they might have done."
46. In his evidence to us, Mr Trimble expressed the
view that it would be desirable for the Orange institutions to
engage with the Commission,
although he added "I understand the Loyal Orders' reluctance
to get involved with residents' groups of whom they are suspicious
of individuals and have very good reasons for not wishing to meet
with them. That should not prevent them from engaging with the
local community and addressing the public in wider terms."
He considered that the Loyal Orders might benefit from additional
training resources and added:
"It would be better
for all concerned if Loyal Orders engaged with society in a broader
way in order to promote an understanding of what they are doing
rather than allowing themselves to be boxed into a corner."
47. The majority of the evidence we received clearly
indicated that there would be general advantage in engagement
between the Orange institutions and the Commission. A useful first
step might be for Grand Lodge to spell out the specific barriers
it sees to engagement, and suggest how the Commission and others
might act to overcome them.
48. The Mediation Network suggested that the Commission
should seek to define the parades conflict more clearly. It commented
that "a simple exposition of the issues" would be helpful
in stimulating a more productive debate. It sees the root of parades
disputes as twofold: the relationship or social order between
paraders and opponents may have broken down, or it may have been
unhealthy in the first place.
It identifies five specific dimensions to the parades conflict
- religious, political, public order, social and economic, and
communal, and suggests that "the Parades Commission could
usefully generate discussion and offer support to those concerned
with each of these dimensions so that, at all the essential levels
of society, a more focussed discussion could take root in both
public and private discourse."
It recognises, though, that "establishing a new consensual
social order between the traditions of Northern Ireland regarding
parades is a long term process, stretching beyond the tenure of
the present Commission." It might be that progress along
these lines would assist the Orange Institutions in engaging with
THE APPROACH OF THE NATIONALISTS
49. Sinn Féin is critical of the operations
of the Commission. Its submission to the NIO Review claimed that
the Commission "has lost the confidence of large sections
of the community."
It accused the Commission of having "palpably failed to resolve
the parades issue. Its decisions have become increasingly inconsistent
and arbitrary ....".
50. The Bogside Residents' Group did not consider
that forcing marches through areas where there is opposition to
them, or re-routing them, would solve the parades problem. It
wished to see the Commission consider the history of contentious
marches and "seek a complete and absolute resolution of the
issue over a period of time".
It sought agreement based on respect and equality arrived at through
various processes of dialogue. It drew attention to "the
strong suspicion among nationalists that the agenda of the Parades
Commission is to arrive at a scenario where marches and parades
take place with or without agreement through currently contentious
routes. This can be seen in its approach to Garvaghy Road, where
a march has been promised if a number of conditions are met by
the Orange Order; the views of residents do not appear to count
in this scenario."
If there was "clear opposition" to a parade, the Group's
spokesman, Mr Mac Niallais, considered that "in many ways
local residents should have a veto over these marches".
51. The Group saw the creation of the Commission
as an improvement on the previous arrangements, where the RUC
was responsible, under public order legislation, for decisions
on parades. It was keen that the Commission should continue to
encourage groups to enter into a process of dialogue or mediation
and facilitate accommodation.
It was concerned that the Commission should not allow itself to
be influenced by short term considerations and added "The
long term resolution of this issue will come about whenever those
who want to march through particular areas show respect and tolerance
for people affected by the marches."
52. The Lower Ormeau Concerned Community (LOCC) also
supported the concept of an independent parades commission. Although
it had been critical from time to time of the operations of the
Commission, it recognised the need for a formal mechanism to resolve
the "difficult issues around parades in the North of Ireland".
It considered that the Commission "has the potential to make
a significant contribution to resolving the parades issue".
In its view, though, the Commission has "drifted away considerably"
from the model set out in the North Report, which it attributed
in part to pressure from the loyal orders.
53. LOCC considered that the best way to enhance
the effectiveness of the Commission would be for it "to operate
in a way which is demonstrably fair and consistent".
Although a decision might be unpalatable to a group or individual,
the process of decision taking should be clear and understandable.
LOCC did not consider that the Commission's present approach accorded
with this principle. It commented "we have too often seen
the Parades Commission apply a limited set of the original criteria
in an inconsistent way and this has been the source of the lack
of acceptance which we have today, not just within the loyal orders
but among residents of areas affected by parades and also among
the wider nationalist community".
It considered that the difficulties had been compounded by Government
interference in the Commission's affairs.
54. LOCC criticised the weight given by the Commission
to the tradition of parading, arguing that parallel weight was
not given to evidence of long standing opposition to parades.
It argued that the Commission's attitude to dialogue had damaged
the prospects for local agreement and stated that "the Commission
needs to accept that in certain well-defined situations it is
unreasonable for the loyal orders to insist on parading in a given
area and that it is legitimate for the residents to remain unconvinced
even after exploring the various issues with the loyal orders".
LOCC expressed the view that loyal orders may "go through
the motions of dialogue in order to sway the Commission rather
than trying to seriously understand and resolve the problems around
parades. Residents believe that dialogue will be used against
them by the Commission".
THE ROLE OF THE POLICE
55. The Commission told us that the police are the
primary source of advice to it on conduct at processions and protest
The RUC must therefore work closely with the Commission. It described
the arrangements it has in place to achieve this. Besides the
appointment of an Assistant Chief Constable and an Inspector as
the key people in maintaining effective liaison, a number of protocols
have been agreed, designed to promote better understanding and
co-ordination between the two organisations, while maintaining
the integrity of both organisations.
The RUC did not see the relationship as "cosy".
56. Responsibility for how the Commission's determinations
are policed rests solely with the RUC and, with this in mind,
the RUC maintains its own links with the community in relation
to parades. As Assistant Chief Constable McQuillan put it
"We have discretion on how we implement the Parades Commission
determinations. It is ... vital that when the time comes to implement
the Parades Commission's determinations we have that range of
contacts and can implement those, and especially as we move the
pattern into much more of an emphasis on policing through a community
policing style, by attempting to talk to people, to negotiate
in order to get them to agree to operate within the law."
He also noted that the RUC could more readily maintain contact
with some of the loyal orders who were not engaging with the Commission.
57. Assistant Chief Constable McQuillan accepted
that there were, on occasion, differences of view between the
RUC and the Commission over the decision on a particular parade.
Although the Commission would not normally re-route a parade where
police advice was that it could pass off completely peacefully,
there are occasions where advice was given by the RUC that it
would take less manpower to police a parade as notified to them
than to police it in line with a proposed determination.
The RUC told us that "it is always more difficult and more
expensive to stop a parade than it is to police something through."
Notwithstanding this, he made it clear that the RUC "do everything
we can to implement ... determinations."
Mr Ingram supported this, stating he "would not want policing
in Northern Ireland .... to be judged on the basis of what it
costs but on the basis of what is right ...".
58. The RUC welcomed the fact that the creation of
the Commission had removed from it responsibility for decisions
on parades, leaving it free to concentrate on policing them, and
The earlier announcement of decisions under the new system could,
however, cause tactical difficulties for the police as this facilitated
organised opposition and alternative plans by parades organisers
when route changes and other restrictions are imposed.
59. In terms of policing parades, the RUC made clear
that the major factor in the decision-making process was the determination
of the Commission. In cases where a controversial parade might
give rise to disorder, the RUC would give the Commission advice
on what it thought would happen in various scenarios. It would
then be for the Commission to balance these and make a determination,
which the RUC would then enforce in an appropriate fashion.
60. In enforcing a controversial determination, the
RUC has due regard to the rights of both those parading and those
protesting. Assistant Chief Constable McQuillan recognised that
this could be difficult: "there are no easy answers here.
If people are determined to come into conflict with each other
it is a matter of balancing the harm that would occur in each
61. The RUC prepares a range of analyses of the outcome
of parades. 
Records are kept of what happened with each parade and this informs
judgements for the next parade in the area by the relevant group.
The RUC also takes an annual across the board look at its entire
tactical deployments, how its systems have worked and what lessons
can be learned from the experience. It has recently completed
an audit of how the relationship with the Commission is working.
62. The policing of parades imposes substantial costs
on the RUC, but these cannot be fully quantified at present.
It is developing financial systems which will enable these costs
to be determined. However, it was able to tell us that the cost
of policing the main Drumcree protest over the last three years
has been in excess of £22.5 million.
There are also hidden costs as the requirement to police parades
means that the force has to be structured in a particular way,
requiring a large force of standing mobile units to be available
to deploy at any time. As Assistant Chief Constable McQuillan
"... It has a huge impact on the way in which we are organised
63. We have seen a summary of the audit of the
relationship between the RUC and the Parades Commission. We welcome
this review and would encourage both bodies to build on its conclusions.
64. Some concerns were expressed to us about the
potential inconvenience in some circumstances for the parade organiser
in having to deliver the completed form 11/1 to an officer of
the rank of sergeant or above. This is a statutory requirement,
not a requirement of the Parades Commission. The RUC described
the arrangements it would make in the event of a sergeant not
being immediately available and stressed that its intention would
be to facilitate the handing in of notices of parades and protest
meetings rather than to frustrate the process.
The Northern Ireland Office had not received any evidence that
the requirement to give notice to a sergeant was a problem.
65. We note the positive attitude taken by the
RUC to assisting those wishing to give notice of parades or protest
meetings. The requirement to give notice to an officer of the
rank of sergeant or above was not a new requirement in the 1998
Act; a similar requirement had been included in the 1987 public
order legislation. No evidence has been submitted to us that this
requirement was also a difficulty under that legislation.
66. Mr Hamilton, of Democratic Dialogue, raised the
possibility of the Commission also looking at related protests.
Subsequent to them giving evidence, we have sought information
from both the Commission and the Royal Ulster Constabulary about
how they co-ordinate their respective decisions on parades and
protest meetings. The Commission has informed us that notified
protest meetings are quite infrequent. The RUC advise the Commission
on the policing implications of a protest, not only as notified,
but also against several possible scenarios while providing their
understanding of the situation most likely to unfold.
The RUC decides how to handle the protest meeting in the light
of the outcome of the Commission's decisions and, on the day,
in the light of the situation on the ground surrounding both the
parade and the protest.
67. Grand Lodge considered that the police, as the
enforcement authority for law and order, should have responsibility
for parades, as it sees the difficulty primarily as a law and
In effect this would be a reversion to the arrangements which
preceded the establishment of the Commission. The Democratic Dialogue
witnesses supported the change introduced in 1998.
The Bogside Residents' Group,
also saw the change as an improvement.
68. We have carefully considered the arguments
for and against returning responsibility for issuing determinations
to the police. On balance, we believe that there are advantages
in separating the power of determination from responsibility for
policing a parade, not least because the range of the statutory
criteria to be considered in relation to issuing a determination
was significantly broadened by the 1998 Act beyond pure public
THE NORTHERN IRELAND OFFICE REVIEW
69. Grand Lodge was largely dismissive of the review,
considering that the result was "predetermined".
Dr Bryan saw the outcome as "rather minimalistic."
ABOD believed the review was badly timed and "unnecessary,
self-serving and ultimately superficial."
Other witnesses were also critical.
70. The Northern Ireland Office saw the review as
"an opportunity to fine tune, with an emphasis on trying
to extend the confidence that there was in the structures in the
Parades Commission in the way it operated." It also set out
to see if there were ways of promoting mediation, as there was
considered to be a common perception that the primary role of
the Commission was to make adjudications.
In essence, it was seen as a stock-taking exercise, informally
conducted by officials.
The Northern Ireland Office was broadly satisfied with the response
of the Commission to the conclusions of the review.
71. It is clear from the terms of reference that
the Government intended the scope of the review to be limited.
Its limited conclusions should not have come as a surprise to
anybody. It would have been helpful, though, if the Government
had made clear its intention to abandon the proposal to bring
forward the date of application of the Human Rights Act 1998 to
THE OPERATIONS OF THE COMMISSION
Role of Authorised Officers
72. A key element in the operation of the Commission
is its network of Authorised Officers (AOs). The team of AOs is
recruited and managed by the Mediation Network for Northern Ireland,
although this responsibility is shortly to be transferred to the
AOs gather information about parades taking place in locations
to which they have been assigned, and report to the Commission
accordingly. They also carry out a mediation role in working to
secure local accommodation in relation to parades disputes.
73. AOs are deployed in pairs around the Province,
divided across all six counties. As far as possible, Protestant
and Catholic AOs work together and the aim is also to seek to
ensure that each pair is balanced in gender terms.
The Mediation Network told us that they include people who "in
their family backgrounds would identify with the parading tradition",
but none of them is an active member of one of the loyal orders.
Such membership is not prohibited, but Mr McAllister commented
"no Orangeman for instance would be much inclined to take
up a paid position with the Parades Commission."
74. The Commission expressed considerable satisfaction
with the work of the AOs. As Mr Holland put it:
"They make what is an
impossible job from the Commission's point of view appear to be
much easier than it possibly can be."
75. ABOD had a less positive view of what AOs could
achieve, and implied that they could do little to improve matters,
but had an inherent capacity to make matters worse.
76. Dr Bryan, of Democratic Dialogue, had "mixed
feelings" as to whether the AOs should be working for the
Commission, rather than the Mediation Network.
77. The Commission is taking over responsibility
for the AOs from the Mediation Network in the near future. The
Mediation Network stated
that there were three reasons for this:
- they needed to develop outside the umbrella of
- a more immediate contact between the field officers
and the secretariat might be expected to improve the quality of
the Commission's operations
- the inability of the Network to continue to give
the present level of attention to the parades problem.
Northern Ireland Office witnesses commented that
if this resulted in a perception that the Commission itself was
becoming directly involved in mediation, rather than doing it
through third parties, "Ministers might want to look at that
78. Whether or not individual witnesses saw the
AOs as successful, they clearly have a key part to play in the
work of the Commission. Given their change of status, it seems
likely that they be perceived as more associated with the Commission
than before. This may impact on their acceptability as mediators.
We therefore recommend that the Commission should not use them
to report on parades, but should employ separate staff for this
purpose, as the Mediation Network has already suggested.
Also, arrangements for their supervision should ensure that Commissioners
who have overseen mediation work should not play an active part
in decisions on parades to which that work relates.
Role of mediation
79. We received considerable evidence from the Mediation
Network of Northern Ireland about mediation, and its potential
contribution to resolving conflicts regarding parades.
The Commission stated that it could not directly involve itself
in mediation, in view of its position as the arbiter on contentious
It did not see mediation as necessarily an answer in relation
to individual decisions in all circumstances.
Neither did the Grand Lodge
and the residents' groups who gave evidence to us.
In particular, Grand Lodge commented that there was no real incentive
to mediate for those opposed to parades "when they know they
can hide behind a Parades Commission determination."
The RUC considered that the mediation processes that have worked
best have involved independent mediators; some loyal orders in
particular saw the involvement of AOs in advising the Commission
in relation to a determination as compromising their position
The status of submissions to the Commission
80. There has been considerable evidence about the
procedure by which the Commission operates. ABOD criticised the
lack of any opportunity for it to see the information on which
the Commission based its decisions.
ABOD considers that the current practice of the Commission breaches
the principles of natural justice.
It also expressed concern about the status of submissions made
to the Commission by the police and others in relation to whether
it was 'evidence' or 'advice'.
81. The RUC takes the view that it is providing confidential
information to the Commission. Although disclosure of its advice
would probably not cause it difficulty, it envisaged that in some
cases there would be problems if it had to disclose the basis
of its advice, which would often be based on intelligence.
In general, the RUC considered its input to be more of a judgemental
than an evidential nature.
82. The Chairman of the Commission maintained that
its method of operation did not offend Article 6 of the ECHR as
the Commission is not determining civil rights.
He conceded, though, that it might be considered flawed on the
grounds of natural justice. However, he could not see that it
would be practicable, particularly at the height of the marching
season, to proceed on a basis which involved cros- examination
of witnesses. The Northern Ireland Office is content with the
current process, which it described as "the most effective
that can be devised", but conceded that "if a court
were to find differently, then, of course, we will have to consider
the implications very carefully."
83. We view with some concern the Chairman's view
that the Commission's procedures in relation to decisions on parades
may be open to challenge on the grounds of natural justice. We
recommend that the Government and the Commission consider urgently
whether the procedures need to be improved by grater transparency
and, if so, to put the necessary steps in hand.
84. Both Grand Lodge
and the Ulster Bands Association
drew attention to occasions where, as a result of errors in the
offices of the Commission, sensitive personal information about
loyalists had apparently been passed on to nationalists. Besides
the incident where the details of certain participants in a band
parade at Maghera were allegedly passed to a Sinn Féin
activist in Maghera,
Grand Lodge maintained that it had evidence that, in 1998-99,
information from a completed Form 11/1 "was given to IRA
activists in Portadown."
85. The Chairman of the Commission told us that he
had unreservedly apologised at the time for the former incident,
which he described as "a dreadful mistake" and which
arose as a result of human error,
but has no knowledge of the incident relating to Portadown. We
have invited the witness to provide further details; this information
is still awaited. In the Maghera case, the Ulster Bands Association
was critical of the Commission for accepting an undertaking that
the material would be destroyed, rather than requiring its return.
86. Such disclosures may be very damaging in the
Northern Ireland context, in whichever direction. We greatly regret
that any such disclosures have taken place in the past and recommend
that every effort is made by the Commission to seek to prevent
recurrences. Not only may such disclosures unnecessarily expose
the persons concerned to enhanced levels of personal risk, they
may also contribute to a reinforcement of perceptions in the community
concerned about the competence of the Commission.
The Commission's decisions
87. The Parades Commission commented that its decision-taking
process is "not like a court process where you have a body
of precedent built up which you have to follow blindly ... what
we are involved in ... is trying to decide [a] particular application
in the light of particular circumstances in accordance with statutory
objectives laid down in section 8 of the Act. Plainly you could
quite easily justify a decision that was made in one set of circumstances
for one particular area ... for one year which might produce a
different decision in another year because of a change in a whole
range of factors which you have to take into account ... so that
the principles are consistent but the end result may be different."
It also stressed the importance of the decision making clear to
the applicants the reasoning behind it.
88. Mr Hamilton, of Democratic Dialogue, commented
that "if you are looking for purist consistency, then you
probably will not find it. The reason for that is that the different
factors in section 8(6) of the legislation will mean different
things in different situations."
He described some of the factors that might contribute to an apparent
difference of approach to what appeared at first sight to be similar
situations. In a supplementary memorandum,
Mr Hamilton demonstrates, subject to a number of qualifications,
that the impact which a procession may have on relationships within
the community is the most frequently cited ground in determinations,
followed by public disorder and damage to property. He saw the
reason for the lack of success in legal challenges to Commission
determinations as coming essentially from the very nature of judicial
89. Grand Lodge asserted that the Commission insists
on direct dialogue with residents' groups.
The Commission maintained that it does not insist on such dialogue
in every area on every occasion. It considers, though, that "there
is little doubt that dialogue involving a constructive exchange
of views, and an inherent message that there is an element of
respect for opposing views, would be an extremely positive factor
on almost every occasion."
90. Mr Hamilton, of Democratic Dialogue, commented
that "consideration of the threat of public disorder, as
the Commission has considered it, has not really distinguished
between the source of disorder, and in many cases it is fair to
say that the threat of disorder from residents groups has ultimately
led to a parade being re-routed or other conditions imposed on
it" but added that a similar criticism was also levelled
at the preceding legislation, the Public Order (Northern Ireland)
Order 1987. Dr Jarman noted
that European jurisprudence suggested that, generally, the threat
of public disorder is a priority over the right to assemble.
91. ABOD was concerned that the Commission seemed
to defer to threats of violence.
It also raised a specific case where it was apparently unclear
from where the threat would emanate.
Other witnesses from the loyal orders shared the general perception.
92. IGBC submitted a dossier of examples
of what it saw as unfair decisions by the Commission, in many
cases following actions designed by the local Preceptory to accommodate
local concerns. These, it considers, are evidence of "a sad
lack of impartiality on the part of the Parades Commission in
their operations and determinations." It detects "an
obvious bias and submissive attitude towards appeasing those who
would use the threat of public disorder and whose avowed intentions
are to actively and deliberately target all processions and stop
them at whatever cost." It also chides the Commission for
the way in which it collects material on which determinations
93. Concerns were also expressed, by the loyal orders
about the consistency, or otherwise, of the decisions of the Commission.
In particular, ABOD was critical of the failure of the Commission
to allow a parade down the Lower Ormeau Road in 2000, after apparently
indicating in a determination that such a parade would be a realistic
possibility in certain circumstances.
94. ABOD also commented that some of the parades
notified by the Lower Ormeau Concerned Community did not in the
event happen: they were simply tactical exercises designed to
force re-routing of Loyalist parades.
We raised one specific example with the Commission, namely, the
parade notified for Friday 11 August, to unveil a new mural. This
would have clashed with an ABOD parade on the same route, had
the ABOD parade not been re-routed by the Commission. Mr Holland
confirmed that, as far as he was aware, that parade (in respect
of which the application said 2,000 people would take part and
in respect of which a determination was made by the Commission
restricting its duration) did not take place. He added:
"To specifically answer
your question, do I think things are contrived? Speaking for myself,
in a word, yes."
95. At the previous evidence session with the Commission,
Mr Holland had commented "There are some ... areas involving
residents where there is perhaps a suspicion that their engagement
is perhaps not as full of integrity as it might be."
96. We recommend that, as a matter of policy,
the Commission sends official observers to all parades in respect
of which a determination has been made.
97. The current statutory provisions require each
parade to be treated separately by the Commission. The RUC could
see some potential benefit in being able to take a broader view
of the cumulative effect of parades if some of the community relations
conflicts could be resolved.
Northern Ireland Office witnesses were not sure that it would
be easy to secure the necessary consensus.
The Bogside Residents' Group supported the concept of a linkage
between parades in Londonderry and feeder parades elsewhere in
98. The Commission saw a number of practical difficulties
with the concept of linkage, not least because it appeared to
mean different things to different people.
It has, however, considered the matter further and concluded that
it would be helpful if it had a power enabling it to make general
policy statements in relation to individual contentious areas
We recommend that the Government examine this proposal carefully.
99. The Chairman of the Commission expressed concern
that, when conditions it imposes on parades are not complied with,
"not a lot seems to happen".
The Commission itself has no control over prosecutions; this is
a matter which involves the police and the Director of Public
Prosecutions Northern Ireland.
100. We are grateful to the Director for providing
us with details of the criteria he uses for initiating or continuing
prosecutions and for providing us with a statistical analysis
of offences under the Public Processions (Northern Ireland) Act
in respect of which he has issued directions.
A summary of this is set out in the table below. This reveals
that only a quarter of offences notified have resulted in a direction
to prosecute being issued, and that in over half of all cases,
the Director has considered the evidence insufficient.
Analysis of Prosecutions under the Public
Processions (Northern Ireland) Act 1998
|Section 6(7)(a) illegal procession (notice requirement)
|Section 6(7)(b) illegal procession (not as notified)
|Section 7(6)(a) illegal protest meeting
|Section 8(7) - breach of condition imposed on a procession
|Section 14(1)(a) - obstruction of procession
|Other offences under the Act||0
*Comprising 109 cases where the evidence was insufficient; 24
cases where it was in the public interest not to prosecute; and
19 cases which had become statute-barred.
**Of which, 14 are not yet tried, 9 acquittals and 24 convictions.
Source: Director of Public
Prosecutions Northern Ireland.
101. The greatest contribution to enhancing the
level of prosecution of offences under the Act would clearly be
to improve the evidential base. We have already recommended that
the Commission should seek to have observers present at all parades
in respect of which a determination has been issued. One logical
function of such observers would be to report to the Commission
on the conduct of the parade, thus reducing its reliance on police
The Impact of the Human Rights Act 1998
102. One of the conclusions of the Northern Ireland
Office Review was that the bringing forward of the implementation
of the provisions of the Human Rights Act 1998 in relation to
the Public Processions (Northern Ireland) Act 1998 might help
in clarifying the underlying rights.
The Commission had opposed any such selective advancement of the
Human Rights Act in the middle of the marching season.
In the event, this proposal was abandoned by the Government following
103. The Commission, however, strongly supported
the implementation of the Human Rights Act and maintained that
its procedures were compliant.
The RUC has, since June 2000, considered carefully the provisions
of the Act when tendering submissions to the Commission in respect
of potentially contentious parades.
104. The Commission expressed some initial concern
that its procedures may need to be altered to secure compliance
with Article 6.
It has since received legal advice that it is not determining
civil rights and obligations within the meaning of Human Rights
105. Grand Lodge and others argued for a rights-based
approach. The Democratic Dialogue witnesses considered that the
introduction of human rights laws into Northern Ireland might
provide new solutions to the problems concerning rights to parade,
but added "human rights legislation will not solve what are
some fundamental community relations problems."
106. As Northern Ireland Office commented, the
position on human rights is complex.
We are grateful for the two memoranda we have received on this
subject, which bear out the very real complexities and uncertainties.
It seems likely, therefore, that the courts may have to decide
on some important matters, such as the balance between the various
rights, and the scope for their restriction on the grounds of
a wider public interest. Although the Chairman of the Commission
over the present need for it to have the power to assist litigants,
we recommend that consideration be given to enabling the Commission
to contribute to the legal costs of parties taking cases that
raise points of general importance in relation to the clarification
of the application to parades of human rights law.
107. In connection with financial assistance in relation
to legal costs, we note that Grand Lodge drew attention to an
apparent disparity in the availability of legal aid for litigation
relating to parades disputes.
The significance of perceptions
108. Perceptions are crucial in relation to parades
and parades disputes. There is a general perception outside Northern
Ireland that difficulties tend to be associated only with parades
associated with the Loyalist tradition. This is not the case,
as the extension to the traditional parade in Kilkeel on 17 March
2000 abundantly demonstrated.
Indeed, the Commission has confirmed that although, generally
speaking, nationalists do not parade outside nationalist areas,
when they do enter largely loyalist areas (such as Kilkeel) "there
is a degree of opposition."
An apparently extreme example of perception was given by the RUC.
The RUC also pointed out that some of the overwhelming majority
of parades which pass off without controversy go through mixed
ABOD supported traditional parades and maintained that fairness
required that loyalists should not interfere with traditional
The perception of Grand Lodge was that the power of veto had been
given to those who threatened violence over parades.
Yet the Commission asserts that it "has continually made
clear over the past three years that there will not be a veto
on loyal order parades by residents groups or others who may be
opposed to those parades. The Commission has approved parades
despite the threat of violence by opponents of parades in the
knowledge that the Royal Ulster Constabulary has made it clear
that they will police whatever decision the Commission makes."
109. We have not sought to examine in detail the
specific allegations made concerning individual parades in respect
of which the Commission issued determinations. These appear to
us, though, to provide a useful insight into the basis of the
perception that the Commission's interpretation of its role, and
more specifically the weighting it attaches to particular factors,
create an inbuilt bias against loyalist marches through areas
not overwhelmingly loyalist in nature.
110. Relations between the Commission and the Grand
Lodge appear to be riven with misunderstandings. One instance
is the status of the invitation sent by the current Chairman of
the Commission to the Grand Master.
The Grand Master saw this as a personal approach and an attempt
to put him at odds with Grand Lodge's declared policy of non engagement.
He therefore did not reply. The Commission has subsequently submitted
further evidence to the effect that the letter extended a formal
invitation in confidence, to the Grand Master "and your fellow
officers at Grand Lodge."
111. Grand Lodge criticised the Commission for failing
to recognise "the fact that opposition to Orange parades
has been orchestrated for political purposes by Sinn Féin."
IGBC made similar allegations specifically in the context of its
parades in Newtownbutler.
Mr Percival, of the Bogside Residents Group, took a different
and commented "I appreciate that Unionists believe that the
residents groups were created particularly by Sinn Féin
in order to promote Sinn Féin's agenda. I accept that many
Unionists believe that, but I just have to say to them that it
is not true."
112. Dr Bryan, of Democratic Dialogue, considered
that there had been "a clear campaign" within the Nationalist
community around the issue of parades, but considered that the
extent to which it had been a concerted joined-up campaign is
"a matter of debate".
He added "I find it ridiculous, this idea that you sometimes
hear, that leaders of residents' groups can somehow create this
situation from nothing. The reality is that much of the resentment
over these parades has existed for a period of time." He
also thought that changes of practice by the police in relation
to parades may have contributed to the success of concerted campaigns.
Dr Jarman saw 1995 and 1996 as the time when the growth in protests
occurred, with only minor increases since.
Combining mediation and determination
113. The Democratic Dialogue witnesses took differing
views on the merits of combining mediation and determination functions.
ABOD commented that "being both poacher and gamekeeper is
a difficult act to sustain and it is certain to cause problems,
impacting adversely on one role or another."
The RUC considered that the dual role allotted to the Commission
gives rise to "an unavoidable conflict of interests."
Northern Ireland Office witnesses recognised that there was a
tension between the Commission's mediation role and its role in
issuing determinations: Mr Watkins commented
"as long as the Parades Commission promotes mediation but
that mediation is conducted at arm's length from the Commission
then that inherent tension does not become insoluble".
114. Grand Lodge commented
that the Commission "should have been made accountable to
parliamentary scrutiny, possibly through the Northern Ireland
Affairs Committee". Our answer to this point is that our
present inquiry demonstrates that such accountability already
exists. Furthermore, this is not the full extent of the Commission's
accountability to Parliament: its annual report and accounts are
required by statute to be laid before both Houses and revisions
to the code of conduct, the procedural rules on the guidelines
as to the exercise of its powers to issue determinations are subject
to parliamentary scrutiny. We intend to continue to take a
close interest in the work of the Commission. We hope that
Grand Lodge and ABOD are reassured over the level of parliamentary
oversight of its operations.
The Performance of the Commission
115. We are acutely conscious of the cultural significance
of parades to both traditions in Northern Ireland, a subject which
has recently been usefully reviewed by the British Irish Inter-Parliamentary
This factor undoubtedly acts to reduce the Commission's room for
manoeuvre. Its actions and determinations are often dissected
minutely and critically examined for nuances. Its members and
staff are therefore consistently under pressure from all sides.
116. The views expressed to us ranged very widely.
Grand Lodge considered that the Commission had failed in respect
of each of its statutory duties.
Dr Bryan, of Democratic Dialogue, saw it as having been "a
relatively successful intervention in a very difficult situation."
Dr Jarman suggested that one of the benefits has been in the removal
of a burden from the Royal Ulster Constabulary.
117. In view of the significance attached to the
issue of parades to both traditions in Northern Ireland, and the
impact of some parades disputes on community relations across
the Province, we recommend that this Report be debated by the
of the Independent Review of Parades and Marches. Back
Report, Executive Summary, para. 53. Back
4 Ev. p.
3 to 5. The Commission is also required to keep those documents
under review and may from time to time revise them, in whole or
in part. Back
Order (Northern Ireland) Order 1987, (1987 No. 463), Article 4(2). Back
p. 69 and Q 247, 253 and 281. Back
13 Q 254. Back
1, paragraphs 1 and 2. The Secretary of State may by order vary
the number of members. Back
1, paragraph 2(3). Back
16 Q 2-3. Back
17 Q 213.
See also Q 210. Back
p. 85. Back
19 Q 286. Back
12, p. 223.. Back
13, p. 223-224. Back
for example, Ev. p. 149 and Appendix 17, p. 296. Back
p.83 -85. Back
p. 2. Back
p. 2. Back
p. 3. See also Ev. p. 69. Back
p. 3. Back
p. 69. Back
29 Q 229,
30 Q 235.
See also paragraph 29. Back
p. 3. Back
p. 3. Back
p. 99. See also Q 13. Back
p. 3. Back
Commission defines 'engagement' as "a real attempt to address
the legitimate concerns of others, and a preparedness to accommodate
these concerns, where it is within their power to do so".(Ev.
p. 4). It is considering how this definition might be further
refined (see Ev. p. 5). See also Q 27. Back
p. 3. See also Q 47. Back
the Commission's definition of 'mediation', see Ev. p. 4. Back
p. 19, Q 21. See also Ev. p. 71 for data supplied by the RUC. Back
p. 19. Back
figure is inflated by the large number of parades notified by
loyalists to pass along the Garvaghy Road in Portadown. In 1999-2000,
52 route restrictions were specifically related to 'Drumcree'
parades along the Garvaghy Road. (Ev. p. 2). The corresponding
figure in 1998-99 was 38 (Q 21). Back
41 Q 88. Back
22, p. 302. Back
43 Q 237.
See also Q 261. Back
p. 136. Back
45 Q 152. Back
46 Q 152. Back
47 Q 143-145. Back
48 Q 145. Back
49 Q 383. Back
50 Q 39. Back
51 Q 40.
See also Appendix 22, p. 302. Back
52 Q 100. Back
53 Q 102. Back
54 Q 103. Back
55 Q 107. Back
56 Q 148. Back
57 Q 182,
58 Q 151. Back
59 Q 150. Back
60 Q 383. Back
p. 4. Back
62 Q 111. Back
63 Q 182-184. Back
2, p. 192. Back
10, p. 216. Back
2, p. 193. Back
2, p. 193. Back
68 Q 211-212. Back
p. 21. Back
p. 22-24. Back
71 Q 108. Back
72 Q 110. Back
73 Q 176. Back
74 Q 178. Back
75 Q 180. Back
76 Q 109. Back
77 Q 201. Back
78 Q 24. Back
79 Q 399.
Ev. p. 104. Back
80 Q 159. Back
Grogan asked (at Q 432), "First Minister, do you think that
the Commission would be more effective and be more knowledgeable
if the Loyal Orders engaged with it as a matter of course?".
Mr Trimble replied, "Yes, I have no doubt about that at all
and it would be desirable. ... ". Back
p. 104-105. Back
p. 105. Back
13, p. 223-224. Back
p. 150. Back
p. 150. See also Q 465. Back
87 Q 472. Back
88 Q 448.
See also Q 453. Back
89 Q 472. Back
90 Q 468. Back
6, p. 209. Back
6, p. 209. Back
6, p. 209. Back
6, p. 210. Back
6, p. 210. Back
6, p. 210. Back
6, p. 210. Back
98 Q 15. Back
p. 69. See also Q 238. Back
224. See also Q 238, 254. Back
243, 254. Back
224. See also Q 228, 244. Back
233, 275. Back
p. 70. Back
21, p. 301. See also Q 285. Back
is a specific saving, in section 10 of the Public Processions
(Northern Ireland) Act 1998, in respect of the common law powers
of a constable to deal with or prevent a breach of the peace. Back
p. 36. Back
for example, Appendix 6, p. 209. Back
p. 51. See also Q 196. Back
for example, Appendix 6, p. 209. Back
287. See also Q 332. Back
paragraph 102. Back
p. 102, 104. See also Q 26. Back
p. 2. Back
378, 400. Back
p. 52. Back
also Q 322. Back
Ev. p.102 - 125, 136-137 and Q 357 to 417. Back
449 and Appendix 6, p. 210. Back
p. 53. Back
p. 55. Back
540; Appendix 22, p. 302. Back
17, p. 293. Back
123, 518, Appendix 17, p. 293. Back
17, p. 293. Back
29. See also Q 54. Back
p. 48-50. See also Q 153. Back
22, p. 302. Back
180-181. See also Q 185-188. Back
for example, Ev. p. 21, and Ev. p. 160. See also Ev. p. 138. Back
10, 218-220. Back
10, p. 220. Back
for example, Ev. p. 22 and Ev. p. 160. Back
for example, paragraph 53 above. Back
570- 571. Back
20, p. 299. Back
18, p. 296. Back
p. 86, 100. See also Q 286 and 292 - 295. The Act already applied
to transferred matters by virtue of section 24 of the Northern
Ireland Act 1998 and was to come into force for reserved and excepted
matters on 2 October 2000 (Ev. p. 86). Back
p. 101. See also Q 604 - 606. Back
p. 69. See also Q 245. Back
22, p. 302. Back
p. 36. Back
p. 100. Back
14, p. 225 and Appendix 15, p. 253. Back
30. See also Q 59-64. Back
22, p. 302. See also Q 118, Appendix 6, p. 209. Back
207. See also Q 118. Back
p. 19. Back
22, p. 302. Back
p. 22 and Q 84. Back
10, p. 219. Back
141. See also Q 157- 159. Back
p. 52. See also Q 191. Back
p. 70. See also Q 262. Back
from the Environmental and Social Committee (Committee D) at the
British-Irish Inter-Parliamentary Body, The Cultural Significance
of Parades, NO. 81, February 2001. Back