FURTHER MEMORANDUM SUBMITTED BY THE PARADES
When I gave oral evidence to the Committee on
3 May, I undertook to respond in writing on a number of points.
Mr McGrady said that he understood that the
Commission had made recommendations to the Secretary of State
regarding the operation of the Public Processions Act and asked
me about the Secretary of State's response.
I assumed he was referring to the Commission's
statutory duty (section 2(1)(d) of the Act) to "keep under
review, and make such recommendations as it thinks fit to the
Secretary of State concerning, the operation of [the] Act"
and said that I had no knowledge of any such recommendations.
I can now confirm that the Parades Commission has not made any
such recommendations to the Secretary of State.
The Commission did, of course, respond to the
request to submit evidence to the Northern Ireland Office Review
which is mentioned in the terms of reference of the Committee's
inquiry. As part of that evidence the Commission made a number
of suggestions relevant to the work of the Commission and the
operation of the Public Processions Act. These covered the desirability
of clarifying what the Commission meant by "engagement";
the case for drawing up a guide to all forms of third party intervention,
including mediation; and the work of the Commission's Authorised
Officers in developing the capacity of local communities to work
for long-term solutions to parading disputes. Each of these suggestions
is reflected in the conclusions of the Northern Ireland Office
Mr Robinson asked me about correspondence between
the Commission and the Grand Orange Lodge in 1997. He acknowledged
that I was not personally involved at the time. Having researched
the papers, my understanding is that the Commission had initially
considered asking nominees of various interested parties to meet
the Commission in order to discuss the draft document.
The Commission's letter of 15 October to the
Grand Orange Lodge explained that the Commission had subsequently
decided to publish all three of its draft statutory documents
simultaneously for consultation purposes "in the first instance".
The letter assured Grand Lodge that "the Orange Order will
be high on the list of those to be included in this exercise".
However, the letter of 15 October went on to say that the nominees
the Order had provided to the Commission "would remain germane
for this purpose". This was because, at that stage, the Commission
had not decided precisely how it would carry out the consultation
exercise. It was subsequently decided that the nomination of representatives
from interested parties would be unwieldy and impractical. This
appears to have led to the misunderstanding between the Commission
and the Grand Lodge.
It is, however, important to be clear that the
Orange Order was subsequently included fully in the extensive
consultation process. The Commission provided Grand Lodge with
the draft Code of Conduct, Guidelines, and Procedural Rules at
the outset of the consultation period, asking for views. It again
enclosed copies of the draft documents in a letter of 8 January
1998 from Richard Buchanan, then Secretary to the Commission,
to the Grand Master, before the consultation period closed on
31 January 1998.
Whatever the misunderstandings which may have
arisen in the past, I did write to the Grand Master of the Orange
Order shortly after my appointment as Chairman of the Parades
Commission, in the hope of developing a working relationship.
To date I have received no reply.
On 3 May I was unable to confirm exactly how
many applications for judicial review of Commission determinations
there had been. I am advised that the total is five, none of which
has been successful. There have, in addition, been two applications
for judicial review brought against the Northern Ireland Office
in relation to the appointment of Commission members. Neither
application was successful.
29 June 2000