Supplementary Memorandum submitted by
Mr Michael Hamilton
When I gave evidence to the Committee on 29
November, I undertook to provide some further analysis on how
determinations of the Parades Commission have been reached in
support of the statistics I gave in oral evidence. I hope that
the attached tables and notes, which briefly explain those tables,
will serve that end. I also hope that the Committee will understand
why I have not felt able to comment in greater detail on these
statistics as my research in this area is continuing.
The reason for compiling the tables was to try
to elicit the relative influence of the five statutory factors,
contained in section 8(6) of the Public Processions Act 1998,
in the determinations of the Parades Commission. Their compilation,
however, was not without difficulty, and two caveats should be
entered. The first arises from not knowing exactly what conclusions
the Commission have drawn from their consideration of any single
factor, let alone how those conclusions have been weighed up against
other factors when reaching each determination. While the Commission
frequently elaborates on its consideration of the individual section
8(6) criteria in its decisions, it is often presumptive to isolate
any single factor and, more particularly, to make a connection
between that single factor and the Commission's final determination.
Anyone examining the statistics should bear in mindthe
tables can only represent my reading of the conclusions drawn
from the Commission's consideration of the individual criteria.
The second caveat derives from the fact that
many determinations refer back to previous determinations. As
a result, it is sometimes unclear whether one should recognise
a particular factor as being pertinent to the Commission's conclusion
when if it is not mentioned in the determination at hand, yet
is cited as being a factor in the prior referenced determination.
A clear example is provided by the criteria, Compliance with the
Code of Conduct, which is considered in the Commission's "Drumcree
Church Parade" determinations (relating to parades on 5 July
1998 and 4 July 1999) yet rarely cited in the subsequent weekly
determinations. Rather, in these determinations the only factor
explicitly cited is the impact on relationships within the community
(and also, latterly, the potential for public disorder). The question
then is, whether Compliance with the Code of Conduct was a factor
in the Commission's deliberations regarding those subsequent parades.
My interpretation has been that Compliance with the Code was not
a factor in those decisions. Therefore, in compiling the tables,
the Code of Conduct has only been counted as a factor if explicit
reference were made to breaches at a previous parade or parades.
In contrast, I have counted the public disorder factor even if
it is not mentioned in the determination at hand, but does not
appear to have been a significant factor in the referenced determination.
This is particularly significant that a sizeable
proportion of the determinations issued by the Parades Commission
are in response to the weekly applications by Portadown LOL No
1 to return to Portadown from Drumcree Parish Church along the
Gravaghy Road. The way in which those determinations are broken
down and construed can have a disproportionate impact on the overall
statistics. The difference between counting Compliance with the
Code of Conduct as a factor in relation to these subsequent parades,
and not doing so, is the difference between, in 1998, this factor
being considered pertinent to the Commission's conclusion in 39
per cent of its determinations, or being considered pertinent
to the conclusion in 18 per cent of its determinations (as cited
in the table). Indeed, this differential would probably be even
greater for 1999.
It is also worthy of note that in several determinations
in 1998, the Commission stated that "As the Code of Conduct
was not in existence when the parades under discussion took place,
this was not a factor we could take into account", and this
therefore goes some way to explaining why this factor was little
relied upon in 1998.
Finally, the statistics are based on the calendar
year, and are not therefore directly comparable with those produced
by the Parades Commission which are based on the financial year.