Submission on the Review of the Workings
of the Parades Commission
Our worst fears about the establishment of the
Parades Commission have been realised. These were outlined in
our response to the North Report in 1997 (Annex 1), Central in
our concerns was that any structures and legislation on parades
would weigh more heavily on the Protestant community, which has
a greater parading tradition. Thus the legislation and the Commission
would not meet Policy Appraisal Fair Treatment principles. This
remains the case.
We object to the interference of an outside
body in our parades because we are a religious body, not subject
to political influence. We do not believe that any arm of the
State has any right to seek to regulate our expression of our
religion. As we stated in our response to the Guidelines, Procedural
Rules and Code of Conduct, (Annex 2)
"The Independent Loyal Orange Institution
is a `religious and loyal brotherhood' dedicated to the promotion
and defence of the Protestant religion. We are not, and never
have been, allied to any political party. Constitutionally we
express a unionist view, but that unionism is dependent upon the
British Throne and Constitution `being Protestant'.
The parades in connection with our Institution
are themselves an expression, a public witness, of our religion.
Without exception they are to a religious service, either in church
or in the open air. Our banners, flags, regalia, and often band
uniforms and equipment have been dedicated, by Ministers of Religion,
to the Glory of God.
In what other democratic country are there such
restrictions on the expression of religion as outlined in the
draft documents of the parades commission? How can they justify
such curtailments of religious expression?"
We further believe that the current regulatory
framework is a reward to those who break the law by blocking roads
and that it is a charter for ethnic cleansing of particular areas.
Sadly this fear has been realised all too often, as the politically
motivated "residents groups" have created an atmosphere
where intimidation of Protestant families has become widespread.
As previously stated by this Institution, the Commission and the
"starts from the misunderstanding that all
of those who object to parades can be placated by some adjustments
by those on parade. This is patently not the case. The situation
in Portadown demonstrates this very clearly.
In the Portadown situation, a parade in silence,
on one side of the carriageway, with one bannerette, once a year,
at lunch time, on a Sunday, along a main arterial route, lasting
about fifteen minutes seems to cause immense offence. The simple
fact of the matter is that those who object to the parades by
Loyal Orders do so because they object to the people on parade,
their religion and their rights. The motivation of the objectors
to parades is the basest form of sectarian hatred."
The Parades Commission has failed to deliver
on transparency, consistency and professionalism. It has become
a factory of grievances adding to, and not helping solve, local
disputes. From the outset, the Parades Commission was neither
independent nor impartial. It bowed to pressure from the Prime
Minister as regards the publication of determinations and it had
on its membership those who had publicly expressed views hostile
to Orange parades. (Annex 3)
1. The Independent Loyal Orange Institution
be recognised as a wholly religious body and be accorded the same
position in legislation as the Salvation Army.
2. That the traditional parades of all the
Loyal Orders (and other similar organisations in the Roman Catholic
community) be given special status not requiring notification.
These parades are on a regular cycle and are well known throughout
3. That non-traditional parades be subject
to notification to the RUC. Where the RUC feel necessary, the
matter should be referred to the Office of First and Deputy First
Ministers who, after appropriate consultation, should make the
final decision. Their Office is, after all, now responsible for
community relations. (In the absence of devolution this matter
should be reserved by the Secretary of State)
4. That protestors against parades be afforded
the right to protest within the law and that any attempt at blocking
roads be forcibly resisted by the RUC. This would bring the position
in Northern Ireland into line with many other countries throughout
the world. (See the North Report"The Law in Other
5. That the responsibility be placed on
the objectors against parades to persuade the Loyal Orders to
desist from parading in non-traditional routes.
6. That paramilitary displays be banned
from all parades.
7. That alcohol be banned from all parades.
8. That at sensitive locations, and on Sundays,
hymn tunes only be played.
These, we believe would restore some semblance
of common sense to the parading issue and begin to restore the
confidence of the Protestant community in the institutions of
27 March 2000