Irish Republican News · December 21, 2010
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
New Parades Commission named

The British Secretary Owen Paterson has appointed a totally new seven-member Parades Commission.

The commission, which adjudicates on the routes of sectarian parades, is to be chaired by former Alliance councillor Peter Osborne, who served on the previous commission.

Amon the members is prominent Orangeman, Rev Brian Kennaway, and Robin Percival, a writer who, as a member of the Bogside Residents Group, was previously involved in negotiations around sectarian parades by loyalist marching orders in Derry.

The other members are: Douglas Bain, recently retired as the North’s chief electoral officer; Delia Close, a former member of the Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition; Frances Nolan, a retired RUC woman and current deputy ‘Lord Lieutenant’ for County Tyrone, and medical academic, Dr Caitriona King.

In February, following the Hillsborough Castle Agreement, it was agreed that the commission would be abolished and replaced with a new system of dealing with parades more acceptable to the Orange Order.

In the summer the order rejected the proposals, which prompted Mr Paterson to appoint this new commission which takes office on January 1st.

Commenting on the appointments, Sinn Fein Assembly member Alex Maskey said it was important that the new group did not repeat the mistakes of the previous commission.

“By general consensus the last Parades Commission repeatedly made bad decisions and made decisions which caused a significant escalating of tensions in areas like Rasharkin and Ardoyne,” he said.

“This new Commission needs to ensure that it does not repeat these mistakes.

“Sinn Fein will be seeking an early meeting with the new Parades Commission to address concerns we have about previous decisions and the mechanism which the Commission went through to reach them. We also need to hear from the new Commission their strategy for resolving contentious parades.

“The Orange Order in particular now also need to reassess their approach to the issue of parading and finally sit down and resolve the very small number of contentious parades which continue to blight the summer months for the communities they seek to march through.

“The position of refusing to talk to the Commission and refusing to engage with local nationalist communities is no longer tenable.”

The Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (GARC) said it believes the new Parades Commission will not give Ardoyne residents any faith in properly addressing unwelcome sectarian marches through the north Belfast community.

“Residents and not a discredited commission or politicians should decide what is right,” the group said. “Local people have been misled for years, thinking engagement with a discredited commission will bring positive results.”

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