APPENDIX: REPORTS, RESOLUTIONS AND STATEMENTS
1999 GENERAL ASSEMBLY
14. We do not under-estimate the problems
involved in this issue. Interfaces are locations where each side
is faced with the apparent unreasonableness of the other side,
each side backed by a hinterland of support.
15. In such situations a number of options
For the sake of peace one side voluntarily
concedes the case to the other.
The Parades Commission determines
what will happen and the RUC, assisted if necessary by the army,
ensures that people abide by the determination.
16. Knowing that it was likely that there
would be difficulty over a number of disputes between those who
protest and those who wish to parade, the General Assembly last
June urged that "local agreement be reached and, where possible,
local ministers or elders offer themselves as facilitators of
this process, but where such an agreement about a particular parade
cannot be reached, the Assembly remind everyone of their calling
to obey lawfully constituted authority, to show a gentle attitude
towards everyone (Titus 3) and urge those who parade and those
who protest to abide by lawfully taken `determinations' of the
Parades Commission". It is important to note that this applied
to both residents' groups and to those who wished to parade.
17. The Church and Government Committee
at its first meeting after the summer of the 7 September commended
all those who sought and achieved local accommodation on the issues
of parades and protests and additionally all who abided by the
determinations of the Parades Commission, even when they did not
agree with the determinations. There were a number of interfaces
where this was difficult but necessary in order to avoid serious
18. On the same occasion the Committee issued
a statement which deplored the events connected with and precipitated
by the dispute between the Portadown District of the Orange Order
and the Garvaghy Road Residents' Coalition. Had all concerned
heeded the clear call of the General Assembly that, if no local
accommodation were reached, the determinations of the Parades
Commission be obeyed, violence and widespread civil disorder would
have been avoided. The Committee called upon the leadership of
the Orange Order "to implement their own stated aims and
principles of `liberty under the law' and call off the protest
at Drumcree and all other associated protests, and work towards
a peaceful resolution of all situations of conflict". At
the time of writing this report, that protest has not yet been
19. It is to be regretted that the clear
advice of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland,
of its General Board and its Church and Government Committee have
been so comprehensively ignored by an organisation which claims
to be Christian and which enjoys the hospitality of many Presbyterian
Churches. When people come out of a service of Christian worship
and confront the security forces and precipitate the whole of
Northern Ireland into a predictable crisis which has cost millions
of pounds, seen the burning of churches and Orange halls and caused
people to be driven from their homes, this commends neither Protestantism
nor the Christian faith to the millions who watch all over the
world and the millions throughout the United Kingdom who have
to pay for the consequences of such activity.
20. We give thanks that individuals are
free to go to worship anywhere and at any time in this country.
However, parading to and from church is not a similar absolute
civil and religious right since it impinges on the rights of other
people. The rights of residents groups are not absolute either.
It is because of these unresolved issues that the Parades Commission
exists. The officers of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland have
told us that it is the policy of the Grand Lodge to have no contact
with the Parades Commission. Considerable amounts of time have
been spent in attempting to resolve the disputes, especially that
associated with Drumcree and the Garvaghy Road, and these attempts
have included representatives of the Portadown District and the
Garvaghy Road Residents' Coalition. At the time of writing this
report there have not been any direct meetings between them.
1999 GENERAL ASSEMBLY
3. That in the matter of contentious disputes
between residents' groups and those who wish to parade, the General
Assembly call upon all concerned to treat one another with generosity,
understanding and respect and further encourage them to discuss
their disagreements with one another; to co-operate fully with
the Parades Commission and in the event of no agreement being
reached, to abide by the lawfully taken determinations of the
STATEMENT: 2 JULY
1. In this present dangerous and uncertain
time the Church and Government Committee commends the Moderator's
call for all Presbyterians to pray and to attend their normal
places of worship on Sunday 4 July 1999.
2. All determinations of the Parades Commission
ought to be obeyed and any legally permitted parade ought not
to be blocked.
3. In the event of the Parade to Drumcree
being prohibited from proceeding down the Garvaghy Road, all those
who choose to parade to any service which may be held at Drumcree
Parish Church on 4 July should follow the determinations of the
Parades Commission and should either return by the designated
route or go quietly home after the service of worship.
4. In the event of any such parade being
permitted to proceed down the Garvaghy Road, it ought not to be
blocked by members or supporters of the Garvaghy Road Residents'
5. The Committee draws attention to the
known fact that many protests get out of control and thus those
who organise protests cannot escape responsibility for the consequences
of their actions.
6. In this volatile time all pursuit of
rights and exercise of protests ought to have due regard to the
peace and well being of the wider community. The Committee commends
and encourages all those people who seek to calm tensions and
defuse potential conflicts in local communities.
STATEMENT: 9 JULY
1. The Church and Government Committee is
gratified that the Portadown District of the Orange Order complied
with the Parades' Commission's Determinations regarding the Annual
Drumcree Parade and dispersed both the parade and the participants.
This action corresponded to that recommended by the Church and
2. With regard to the parades on Monday
12 July 1999 the Committee would appeal to all connected with
the Orange Order to abide by the determinations of the Parades
Commission, even if they have reasonable concerns about those
determinations, and be careful not to lose the good will which
has been recently gained. Protesters must not block any legally
3. The Committee reiterates the call of
the General Assembly that both those who wish to parade and those
who may protest should "treat one another with generosity,
understanding and respect". The Committee would welcome a
greater obvious demonstration of all three.
STATEMENT: 7 SEPTEMBER
1. The General Assembly and the Church and
Government Committee have consistently called upon those who wish
to parade and those who may wish to protest to seek local accommodations,
to obey the determinations of the Parades Commission, to treat
one another with generosity, understanding and respect and not
to block any legally permitted parades.
2. The Committee commends all whose actions
were consistent with these resolutions and deplores the provocative
and unhelpful actions of the Lower Ormeau Concerned Community
in sitting on the road to block the Apprentice Boys' Parade on
the 14 August and in the rioting which followed the parade in
Derry. This was especially reprehensible in that it coincided
with the first anniversary of the Omagh bomb.
JUNE 2000 MEETING
The Parades and Protests issue continues to
have the potential to inflame passions. Some local accommodations
have proved possible and have raised hopes as well as consolidating
reasonableness. In other instances people have protested about
the Determinations of the Parades Commission but have complied
with them. Unfortunately some others have engaged in protest designed
to prevent the Determination of the Commission being implemented.
The Presbyterian Church in Ireland Statement Issued
5 July 2000 by the Moderator of the General Assembly
"Call off the protests: co-operate with
the Parades Commission"
Presbyterian Moderator Dr. Trevor Morrow has
issued the following statement concerning the present civil unrest.
The position of the Presbyterian Church is clear
and has been stated on numerous occasions in the past. It remains
unchanged. In the light of the growing civil disorder I take this
opportunity to place the church's position in the public domain
I would remind people of the resolution of the
1999 General Assembly. "That in the matter of contentious
disputes between residents' groups and those who wish to parade,
the General Assembly call upon all concerned to treat one another
with generosity, understanding and respect and further encourage
them to discuss their disagreements with one another; to co-operate
fully with the Parades Commission and in the event of no agreement
being reached, to abide by the lawfully taken determinations of
the Parades Commission".
I am deeply concerned that the dispute between
the Portadown District of the Orange Order and the Garvaghy Road
Residents' Coalition remains unresolved. It has the potential
to threaten the stability of our society as a whole. It is my
hope that all those involved in the dispute will fully co-operate
with the Parades Commission and with Brian Curran's conflict resolution
initiative. In the meantime it is necessary that the Parades Commission's
determinations be obeyed.
I deplore the fact that people have been called
on to the streets. This type of street politics gets quickly out
of hand, is uncontrollable, is wide open for exploitation by people
connected with paramilitary groups and results in the intimidation
of innocent people, the escalation of attacks on the security
forces, massive inconvenience and the erosion of the rights of
citizens to go about their lawful business. It is a known fact
that many such protests get quickly out of control and thus those
who call for and organise protests cannot escape responsibility
for the consequences of their actions. As the Orange Order is
patently unable to control these protests, their leadership should
ask that they be called off.
The apostle Paul wrote the following to Titus
(3.1-2) "Remind your people to submit to rulers and authorities,
to obey them and be ready to do good in every way. Tell them not
to speak evil of anyone, but to be peaceful and friendly, and
always to show a gentle attitude towards everyone".
It is time for all Christian people to seek
peace and to pursue it and to pray that God will be merciful to
us and deliver us from evil of every kind.
Rt. Rev. Dr. Trevor Morrow (Moderator
of the General Assembly)