Supplementary Memorandum submitted by
the Northern Ireland Office
This memorandum provides information supplementary
to that given in oral evidence on 17 January 2001.
The Committee expressed an interest in seeing
the submission to the Secretary of State, which conveyed the findings
of the NIO's review of the Parades Commission. Rather than provide
the submission or a synopsis of it, Ministers have agreed to expand
upon the reasoning behind the recommendations that were accepted.
This is attached as an annex to this memorandum. We hope this
is acceptable to the Committee.
We can confirm that, during the round of talks
chaired by Adam Ingram, both the Orange Order and the residents
had the opportunity to comment on records of meetings before these
were submitted to the Parades Commission.
Legal advice has confirmed that the terms in
which the legislation is couched at present would prevent the
Commission from considering more than one parade in each determination.
The RUC's Operations Planning Branch has confirmed
that this information is included on Form 11/1 for police purposes.
Somehow, the Ulster Bands Association appears to have been misinformed.
The Commission did, on one occasion, make funding
available to train some members of the Apprentice Boys of Derry
but does not routinely have money set aside in its budget for
that purpose. However, it is keen to promote such training and
would welcome wider discussion on how best to pursue the issue,
including the funding aspect.
The budget for the Parades Commission for the
current financial year is £1.138 million.
There is no budget specifically set aside for
the purpose of promoting better understanding of decisions. However,
since the NIO review was carried out, additional care has been
taken in presenting information and reasoning, both within determinations
and in press releases. Additionally, meetings have taken place
with the people or bodies who have expressed an interest in discussing
the Commission's decisions in various areas. The cost of each
of these measures would be negligible in financial terms, and
could be better expressed as a more effective way of using the
Commission's time and resources.
By the closing date for the competition for
the Chairmanship (5 November), 13 applications had been received.
Upon re-advertisement at the increased salary (closing date 15
December), 45 applications were received.
The Chairman's post was originally advertised
with a salary of £31,500. It was re-advertised with a salary
range of £30,000-£40,000, with more potentially available
for an exceptional candidate.
In response to Mr Robinson, we stated in evidence
that the late applications were received within two days of the
closure date. This was incorrect. The last application was received
12 days after the closure date.
In addition to the above points, arising from
question 299, I should like to place on record that we have since
raised again with the Parades Commission the need to heighten
awareness of mediation and the importance we attach to the implementation
of that recommendation.
28 February 2001