Examination of Witnesses (Questions 280
WEDNESDAY 10 JANUARY 2001
OBE, AND INSPECTOR
280. I do not want to ask you to second guess
the Parades Commission's judgment but what are the factors that
make them take so much earlier a decision than you do?
(Mr McQuillan) I think there is a different legislative
framework. They have to allow time for people to ask for a review.
They have to allow time, if necessary, if we wish to appeal to
the Secretary of State. This is an area where we have to recognise
that the European Convention on Human Rights is a significant
issue. I believe that because of the European Convention it is
probable that if the RUC were still making those decisions today
we would not be able to do what we have done in the past, which
was done in the interests of the community but was probably not
compliant with the Convention. Therefore, I feel the Commission
do the best they can in the circumstances to be fair to all parties.
I do not want to overplay that. It is an issue for us, it just
forces us to be a bit cleverer and to do things differently. We
have to live with it, it is a legal requirement in a democratic
society and we have just got to live with the issue.
281. My final question, which is supernumerary
and does not come out of the answers you have already given, is
do you ever find that a parade in respect of which a determination
has been made, in other words that it should be able to go forward,
does not take place?
(Mr McQuillan) I am trying to remember if we have
had any recently. I do not think we have, Chairman. I made a note
to myself here to come back on the last question to add one further
item. The Parades Commission issues a determination five days
in advance but on the day of any parade we would consider the
operational situation and there might be circumstances where we
would decide that the risks involved in a particular parade were
so difficult that we would have to take a decision to do something
other than the Commission's determination. That would only be
absolutely in extremis. Legally we would be required to do that
if, for example, we considered because of a certain circumstance
there was a huge risk to life in complying with the Commission's
determination. We would have the power to refer to the Secretary
of State if there were time but we might actually have to take
that decision. I am not aware of any case where a parade has not
gone ahead when the Commission have determined that it could.
282. You perfectly understandably have answered
my question on the basis of an intervention or a decision by somebody
other than the paraders, and I am most grateful for the answer
you gave, but I was actually thinking in the context of the paraders,
where the paraders had received permission to march but decided
(Mr McQuillan) No, we have not. I cannot think of
one, Chairman. We have had cases where paraders have had a determination
that they cannot go along a particular section of route and they
have abandoned the entire parade.
283. I will not play games with you. It arose
out of the evidence by the Apprentice Boys who said some of the
Lower Ormeau Concerned Community parades which had been authorised
for particular hours of the morning had not in the fullness of
time been carried out.
(Mr McQuillan) Inspector McGarry has some knowledge
284. I think all of us would be delighted to
have Inspector McGarry have the last word.
(Mr McGarry) The legislation requires 28 days' notice
to be given of a parade. It is quite often the case that the Lower
Ormeau Concerned Community will give notice of intent to parade
to oppose what they view as a sectarian parade and give that as
a reason. On the day, five days' in advance, the determination
from the Parades Commission could be that the parade by the Loyal
Order will not pass down the Lower Ormeau Road, therefore the
LOCC do not hold a counter protest or parade.
Chairman: What that exchange has demonstrated
is that is the only instance where that particular series of events
285. I was going to inform yourselves and the
Committee that there have been circumstances where the paraders,
as you referred to them, have voluntarily altered their route
in order to facilitate a better community response in the area.
(Mr McQuillan) Voluntary alterations of route and
other restrictions in terms of not playing music have been negotiated.
I was going to say there is also the issue of related protests.
In a number of cases we will find that a parade is notified and
we will get notice of a counter protest but we know quite well
from intelligence and other sources that no steps have been taken
to organise that and it is thrown in as part of the process of
negotiation and evidence gathering.
Chairman: Let me endorse and reiterate what
various other Members of the Committee have said to you, not only
on the previous occasion on this, that we have greatly admired
the manner in which you have given evidence and the evidence that
you have given. I give you a guarantee from the Chair that we
will not deliberately engineer an inquiry which will provide us
with a third occasion on which to take evidence from you but were
it to occur it is something to which the whole Committee would