Examination of Witnesses (Questions 260
WEDNESDAY 10 JANUARY 2001
OBE, AND INSPECTOR
260. Do you sometimes discover a larger distinction
between what your initial input is and maybe advice about a particular
parade and what it is that you then discover through your monitoring
which may then alter what it is that you feel is your input in
(Mr McQuillan) I would not say that, sir. On individual
parades there have been situations where we have disagreed with
the Parades Commission. We have given advice to the Commission
that because of the risks we suggest that the parade should be
dealt with in a particular way or that there were higher risks
in dealing with it in one way rather than another. The Parades
Commission have not accepted our advice. We have policed the parade
and the parade has gone well and we would then learn from that
experience and move forward next time, I hope. That is the only
way I can answer the question. We do treat this as a learning
exercise. As I say, some of these are judgement calls. It is a
question of how far we can move forward at any given time.
261. Earlier you talked about parades on 12
sites being ones that created problems. Is it that the inputs
that you have, in connection with giving advice to the Parades
Commission, tend to relate to those areas or is it more general?
(Mr McQuillan) The figure of 12 is my immediate reaction.
I would like if necessary to go away and look at that and identify
the number of sites. It is not a large number of locations. Those
are the areas where traditionally we have had the greatest difficulties
with parades. I could go round now and say places like Londonderry,
Dunloy, the Whiterock parade in Belfast, the Tour of the North
parade in Belfast, Kilkeel, Drumcree, Lurgan, are all traditionally
places where the parades cause problems because of the nature
of the routes and the difficulties with communities in the area
and in some cases demographic change. There can be controversial
parades outside that but for the vast majority of these there
is almost a framework for them. We keep a calendar of parades
and we can tell when the peak demands are going to be because
those are traditionally the points at which there are conflicts.
262. The RUC made a submission to the Northern
Ireland Review of the Parades Commission in which it concluded
that the dual role allotted to the Commission of facilitating
mediation and making binding determinations in a court gives rise
to an unallowable conflict of interest in court. How would the
RUC see this conflict being resolved?
(Mr McQuillan) I think the Parades Commission share
that and in their 1999/2000 report they have also alluded to it.
Mediation in our experience is about attempting to get parties
to reach an agreement that recognises both their interests but
perhaps is not totally satisfactory to both sides. It is about
compromise. I think the difficulty the Parades Commission have
is that because their Authorised Officers are involved in the
process of giving advice to the Commission and because of some
of the Loyal Orders' positions on that, the Authorised Officers
are therefore seen as not in a good position, or are seen by one
of the major parties in this as not in a good position to mediate.
The mediations that have worked best in Northern Ireland in our
experience have involved independent mediators. We believe that
there is benefit in potentially facilitating mediation away from
the actual Parades Commission itself. That is a statutory duty
of the Commission and we have seen, for example, in the Ballynafeigh
parade that the Commission have actually moved towards that, of
trying to promote mediation by third parties. A critical issue
to a mediation we believe is that the third parties trying to
promote the mediation need to be trusted by both parties. The
key issue is what works in a given area. Because these are local
disputes very often we need local people who are trusted by both
sides to have the interest of the entire community at heart to
become involved in that process. If I can take the Londonderry
example, two local businessmen were at the heart of that mediation
effort who were totally unconnected with either organisation and
who basically did it out of a sense of civic duty. I hope that
263. Do you think it is a matter of setting
up some new mediation structure such that we can draw on different
people on different occasions, or do you feel it is a matter for
the Commission itself tending to be aware of those and to be drawing
in people who are appropriate to mediate in different circumstances?
(Mr McQuillan) We could do it different ways. The
Commission are taking a very pragmatic and sensible approach to
it in terms of trying to bring in people from different areas
to do it in different ways. I think that the legislative framework
could be as good as any other. The point is that mediation needs
to have the trust of all parties involved in the process.
264. Good afternoon, Mr McQuillan. It is nice
to see you again. I asked you the last time we met if you would
supply some further information on some issues that I had and
can I thank you for that information. I want to follow on from
the last point. I notice that the memorandum says that you think
there is a greater willingness within the wider community to accept
mediation and negotiation now. I really wonder how the RUC make
that assumption given that certain sections of the Loyal Orders
say that they do not want to engage with the Commission and they
have made quite a big issue about the whole question of the Queen's
Highway being a free right of passage and something that you cannot
(Mr McQuillan) I think the Orange Order have a consultation
process as I understand it going on at the moment within their
membership about how they should react and whether they should
maintain their policy. We gather that impression from our contacts
across the board, not just with the Loyal Orders but with the
wider community, and all sections of the wider community, with
political representatives, with local people. The impression that
we get is that the impact of Drumcree over the last six years
has been such that people are fed up with this problem. They feel
it is a blight on their area every year and they want some sort
of resolution. I think the vast majority of people probably recognise
that these are local issues. They are local communities, very
often very small communities, where everyone knows everyone else,
and ultimately there has to be some sort of accommodation. The
key issue is how we break the impasse and get that accommodation.
We also have seen some hopeful signs in a small number of areas
where there has been controversy in the past that organisations
are prepared to look at things from the other side's point of
view. If I can give one example of that, in Newry last year, where
there is a long history of disputes about parades, through mediation
efforts with a third party group a cultural evening was arranged
at which each of the Loyal Orders, for example, presented a stand
at which they displayed their memorabilia and their history, their
culture, their beliefs, as did some Nationalist groups. People
were able to come along collectively to that and go round and
talk to each other about why they did various things. Mr McGrady
may have some personal knowledge of thiswhat their beliefs
were, why they did some things. That is an early first stage but
it is getting people to understand where others are coming from.
265. I think as I arrived you were explaining
to Mr Barnes what you understood by mediation, and you gave one
or two examples.
(Mr McQuillan) Yes.
266. What is the distinction between "mediation"
and "negotiation"? What do the RUC mean by "negotiation"?
(Mr McQuillan) I think mediation and negotiation could
be taken as the same thing. The key issue is in mediation the
parties do not necessarily have to come together, they just have
to ultimately accept that there is a solution. They may not be
prepared to talk to each other, but if they are prepared to talk
to a third party who can arrive at a mutually satisfactory deal,
that is the difference. Negotiation involves face-to-face negotiation.
Ideally one would want to see a society in which these matters
could be negotiated politically at local level, at community level,
through community representatives and political representatives,
but that is some time off.
267. Do you envisage that the RUC should play
a part in direct negotiation and what shape or form would that
(Mr McQuillan) Mediation and negotiation is a statutory
duty for the Parades Commission. We would wish to assist in whatever
way anyone felt we could be helpful in that. There are occasions
where the RUC are intimately involved in negotiations on conflicts
with both sections of the community and are trying to broker arrangements
with both sections of the community. We keep the Authorised Officers
in the Parades Commission fully involved in that, it is not a
competition with them, it is a question of what works in a given
area. If we can assist that process we would want to do it. Indeed,
from the new Police Act we will have a statutory duty to promote
community relations in that way. We would want to try and do that
but we are equally quite happy to work through third parties.
268. Mr McQuillan, I have to say that my admiration
for you and your colleagues increases exponentially as I listen
to your evidence. I have to say I would not have your job for
all the tea in Whitehall. It is immensely impressive. I want to
ask you a very easy question to which there is almost a one word
answer, but before that could I just ask you a question about
a reference you made earlier on to Inspector McGarry's audit.
I presume that this, when published, will be an internal RUC document?
The reason I am asking is that would be very much grist to our
mill on this Committee and some indication of the McGarry audit's
conclusionsI would not be so presumptuous as to speak for
the Chairmanfrom the perspective of
Chairman: You certainly never would. From the
perspective of pond life on this Committee I would greatly value
sight of the conclusions, not the audit.
(Mr McQuillan) In principle I would have no problem
submitting an additional memorandum to the Committee on the conclusions.
Can I say that I first got this about two days ago, just before
the weekend, and on the plane on the way over today we were reading
it and I had to keep asking for explanations or how to interpret
certain parts. I would be quite happy to provide a memorandum
to the Committee on that. We would certainly be open with that
document with the Parades Commission, for example, we would be
sharing that with them and we hope that would act as a prompt
for discussions on some of the interface areas between us. It
covers, for example, our internal systems, it covers how we work
with the Commission and the Commission work with us, and there
are issues of how the systems work that we would want to take
up with them.
269. Thank you very much indeed. Just a simple
question. In the evidence you gave you referred to the actual
cost of policing the main Drumcree protest between 1998 and 2000,
the July parade, as falling over those three years from £11
million to £6 million to £5.5 million. Leaving aside
the obvious question of how much good that money could have done
in other arenas, is it possible for you to give an indication
of the total cost of policing of parades either over a similar
period or over five years?
(Mr McQuillan) I cannot, quite frankly. It is huge
in that it requires the force to be structured in a particular
way. We are required to keep a large force of standing mobile
support units available to deploy at any time. It has a huge impact
on the way in which we are organised. We could go through and
try to work out some figures on that, but we do not have financial
systems that can analyse that in the way you have asked. If you
ask me that question in two years' time we hope that we will.
270. You quote the figure of £11 million
for policing Drumcree in July 1998, a staggering figure considering
the size of the population of Northern Ireland. Presumably that
figure was audited and costed out in some way?
(Mr McQuillan) Yes.
271. I am not trying to pin you down but is
it possible to give an indication of whether that would be 20
per cent or 50 per cent? How significant is £11 million?
(Mr McQuillan) That was not even the total cost.
272. More than that?
(Mr McQuillan) Yes, transport and ancillary costs
are not included, on-costs are not included in that.
273. And presumably long-term injury and sickness?
(Mr McQuillan) Are not included in it. We would have
to go through and do a detailed analysis right the way across
the organisation and we quite simply do not sufficiently robust
financial systems at this stage to do that. It is not a way of
avoiding the question, it simply is not there. That would be a
small fraction of the total cost. That figure of £11 million
for 1998 is the figure for July 1998 at Drumcree. We can do that
because we know the officers who were in there that month, we
know how long they were there, we know how much we paid for accommodation,
catering, everything else, we know what overtime they were entitled
to while they were in there. Included in that figure is the overtime
elsewhere in Northern Ireland because of the extent of the violence.
On a day by day, week by week basis we have officers committed
to Drumcree every day of the week, particularly at the time of
the weekly parades and there are knock-on parades. There are 3,200-odd
parades across Northern Ireland on average every year. We hope
within about two years that we will be able to cost that activity
but at this stage our financial systems cannot.
274. If I have learned one thing about you,
Mr McQuillan, it is that you do not seek to avoid the questions,
and I thank you for that answer and for your evidence.
(Mr McQuillan) I think it would be a very small fraction.
Chairman: I have two supplementary questions
which have come out of the discussion today and a third that I
would like to ask. Let me just verify whether any of my colleagues
have any supplementary questions they want to ask arising out
of the evidence which has been given to us?
275. Two quick supplementaries. I think a lot
of people might accept that if the parade had gone on it would
not have cost this amount of money. Would you like to comment
(Mr McQuillan) There is a hierarchy of costs in policing.
The most expensive operation on that day is always to stop a parade.
It is always more difficult and more expensive to stop a parade
than it is to police something through. The question is what is
the consequence of attempting to police it through and, as police
officers, it is not our decision to do that, it is for the Parades
Commission. We are quite happy, frankly, for the Parades Commission
to take that decision. Certainly in most circumstances it will
be more expensive to stop a parade than to get a parade through.
276. The second supplementary is would you accept
that it is generally the view of the Loyal Orders that if the
protesters come out, threaten to sit down, threaten to cause a
riot, then the parade will be banned or stopped?
(Mr McQuillan) I think I have heard them express that
view. I do not necessarily share that view and in any case I would
have to say the decision is for the Parades Commission. There
is an issue here about balancing rights and there is European
law on this issue. The legal position in Europe, under European
law, is if a parade is a lawful parade it is the duty of the police,
where possible, to put that parade down that route. However, that
is heavily qualified by other cases in the UK which have indicated
that rerouting of parades or forcing them to use alternative routes
is a proportionate way of addressing the risk of public order
and the risk to life and other rights that are imposed in that.
There are legal issues as well and we have to operate within that
277. Could I endorse what my colleague has said
about the way you have answered the questions, you have not dodged
(Mr McQuillan) Thank you very much. My job is to try
to assist the Committee in whatever way I can. This is a very
complex and contentious issue.
278. With an agreeable symmetry, Drumcree featured
in your answers to my initial questions and also featured in Mr
Pound's final substantive question at the end of our cross-examination.
Just one question about Drumcree in terms of the timetable under
which it developed as an issue. My recollection of intergovernmental
conferences with the Irish Government between 1989 and 1992 is
although it did arise, and it was brought up as a subject, the
Garvaghy Road. It was brought up towards the end of my time in
Northern Ireland rather than throughout my time. If that is so,
did it arise because of the development of the estate along the
Garvaghy Road which then created the drama, or was it caused by
(Mr McQuillan) Clearly there have been demographic
trends which have affected this. My personal history with this
parade goes back to 1981 when I was a sergeant in Portadown and
at that point the dispute focused on the outbound route of the
parade which went down an array known as Obins Street. Obins Street
at that point in time had become virtually 100 per cent Nationalist
and there was strong local opposition, not I have to say particularly
well organised, in the Nationalist community to that parade going
down that section of the road and there were riots and disputes
at that and on occasions police took the decision to force the
parade off the route, on other occasions we took the decision
to allow it to go on the route. The history goes back beyond that,
Chairman. I think it is fair to say that the focus on Drumcree
has arisen because of the way in which the parades issue has been
galvanised, in a sense, by the emergence of residents' groups,
which are very well organised and are politically well connected.
In a sense that community organisation has galvanised and focused
the issue and pushed it further up the political agenda.
279. My second question relates to an answer
you gave Mr McGrady when you referred to the disadvantage of moving
from circumstances where the RUC would announce their determination
in the context of a particular parade at the last possible moment,
whereas the Parades Commission might give five days' notice and,
therefore, an element of surprise was lost from the point of view
of the RUC. My recollection and understanding of the Parades Commission's
position is that five days is the latest they can do it although
they do their best to make it as late as they can.
(Mr McQuillan) That is right, yes.
2 Evidence not reported Back