Select Committee on Northern Ireland Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Annex 3


Parades Commission—A Barrier to Progress

  Speaking at the Independent Imperial Grand Orange Lodge at its Annual Meeting in Ballymoney on Saturday 2 January 1999 Rgt Wor Bro George Dawson said the following:

      The Parades Commission was set up to solve the parades issue and to create transparency in the decision making process. It has signally failed! Every decision it makes drives a greater wedge between the communities in Northern Ireland. Still it clings to the belief that it is acting in the best interests of community relations when the sad truth is that its legacy is one of heightening divisions, creating conflict, breeding suspicion and fomenting communal strife. It will take Northern Ireland years to recover from the stupid and doctrinaire decisions of this thoroughly discredited body.

      The Commission is a factory of grievances. It is structured to reward those who object and undermine the organisers of parades. It creates a deep-seated sense of grievance, which it cannot understand or empathise with, leaving no means of effective appeal. Thus the conditions of conflict and consequent communal tensions are created.

      This was disaster waiting to happen. The Parades Commission is not independent, it is not impartial and it is unprofessional.

      The lack of independence was revealed to all interested parties when it bowed to Prime Ministerial pressure in May of this year. The partiality is revealed by the composition of the body and the declared hostility to parades of some of the Commission members. (Mr David Hewitt in his open letter to Christians ).

      The lack of professionalism is twofold. Firstly its determinations are the production of a simple word processor editing facility. They require only the skills of a clerical assistant. Increasingly, the Commission is resorting to the repetition of a few trite phrases with which it seeks to destroy the civil and religious liberties of this land. When they have been asked to elaborate further on their strange decisions they refuse to do so—so much for transparency in the decision making process!

      Secondly, it has no ability to recognise those who have the potential to mediate with honour. The Commission members are either so blinkered by their desire to destroy us, or their own stupidity or their lack of negotiating ability, to recognise potential solutions to a number of difficult situations.

      Having made the situation worse than when they came to it, the Parades Commission should immediately be sacked for their incompetence.

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