Examination of Witnesses (Questions 480
TUESDAY 6 FEBRUARY 2001
480. Just the point about the Apprentice Boys,
why would they take a different view?
(Mr Dawson) You are quite right in saying that the
Apprentice Boys are a separate organisation to that of the Orange
Institution. I would contend that the Apprentice Boys of the Ormeau
Road would say that the talks in Londonderry have failed them
to get their parade.
481. What about the Authorised Officers? Do
you think they have any value at all? What is your view of Authorised
(Mr Monteith) I have referred both in own personal
submission to the Committee and briefly in the opening to that.
They are very pleasant people to meet and I am sure they are trying
to do something. The personal experience I have had with them
has not encouraged me. Again, it boils down to the fact that you
have absolutely no idea as to what they are relating. They have
no opportunity in the Drumcree situation for achieving anything
482. In the submission from Mr Dawson, he says
that the Parades Commission continues to urge the District Lodge
to meet with them to explain our case. Prior to the Commission
taking over responsibility, members of the Portadown District
did meet with the then Chairman, Alastair Green, to put the case
to them, this submission has never been recognised by the Commission.
What does it mean to say that it has not been recognised? It has
not been received by them, it was not even acknowledged or is
it that there was no response made to what was put to them?
(Mr Dawson) It was actually an oral presentation and
I was one of the delegation of the Portadown District and County
Armagh officers who met Alastair Graham and members of the Commission
at that time. It was received, however you will not find any determination
or adjudication that they have issued. They have said they are
aware of the case, but to the contrary they have turned around
and said they are not aware of the circumstances and they continually
highlight the fact that Portadown District have failed and the
members of the Orange Institution do not recognise they failed
to meet the Commission. In that context I said that they never
recognised that several of us have been in a room with them, explaining
the history of the Portadown District, our position within the
Grand Lodge, the special case the Drumcree people have, as being
one of the oldest church parades in the history of the institution,
so it was in that context they have in all of the determinations
refused to acknowledge that that meeting ever took place and they
were aware of different background information to Drumcree.
483. Obviously you have looked to the highest
with regards to the work of the Commission. One thing that might
be said about a possible role that you could be engaged in was
that of trying to create some public understanding about what
the issues were involved in the public processions. Do you feel
that the Commission has in any way being able to achieve that
or is the response as negative as the things you said so far about
(Mr Dawson) The responses are negative. As has been
previously stated, Richard has met the Commission in a variety
of capacities and the Commission is well aware of the history
of this parade, what it entails and the background to it. It is
not correct for them to be saying that we have to meet them in
order for them to know our case. Our case has been put to them
adequately on several occasions and they still refuse to acknowledge
484. Obviously public understanding will relate
mainly to Northern Ireland, but I think there are some difficulties
in the British public understanding what is occurring and why
there is such strong feelings involved. To them it might seem
that the suggestion that a parade should be rerouted on one of
its legs might create an injustice but it is like a rather minor
change because the operation could still take place. What would
you say to them in order to get an understanding as to the significance
you see in the parade continuing on its traditional route?
(Mr Dawson) First of all, we visited several constituencies
in England and Scotland. We have a Grand Lodge in England and
Scotland and our associated members are well aware of the situation.
They would be sympathetic. They take the point of view that they
would not like a non-elected, non-accountable body telling them
when and where they cannot parade; it is left to the local authorities
and to the police in their constituency. They are as puzzled by
it as we are. There has been no difficulty in getting that message
across to them. With regard to the rerouting, it is quite unacceptable
that as long as you get it it does not really matter what route
you take. I suspect that if a major parade in England which had
a traditional history was rerouted because somebody simply objected
to it, there would be a better understanding from the people there
as to what we are living with in Northern Ireland.
485. I am thinking more of the general public
who are picking material up from the television who are not used
to many parades, or if they are used to parades they are used
to parades which are clearly of a political nature, like May Day
parades, and not to what are seen as traditional cultural parades.
I was just wondering how that feeling that you have about the
significance and importance of the parade is something that you
could get through to people who do not have the same background
and seriousness that you have.
(Mr Monteith) The Portadown District always endeavours
to use whatever media is open to them to get their message across.
We are sitting over here in Northern Ireland and to get any more
than 30 seconds of prime time television on ITN or BBC across
the water is very difficult. It is very difficult for the people
on the other side of the pond to see it. History will dictate
that in Northern Ireland it is only bad news that travels cross
the water and it is very, very difficult to get good news. The
kind of organisation that we are and the work that we do in Northern
Ireland, it is very difficult because people, quite frankly, in
the media are not interested in spreading good news, it is only
when something goes wrong. We would take every opportunity that
is open to us to put our message across. It is difficult because
of the media problem.
486. What impact do you expect the coming into
force of the Human Rights Act to have on the decisions on parades?
Does the Portadown Lodge envisage testing Commission decisions
in the courts on the basis of the coming into effect of the new
(Mr Monteith) I think the answer lies in the judgment
of the Court of Appeal, Mr Beggs, and the matter of an application
by David Alexander Tweed for leave to apply for judicial review.
The judgment of the Lord Chief Justice was handed down before
Christmas. I have already touched upon this, if I can expand on
it briefly. I think the Committee, if you have not already done
so, should obtain a copy of this. That was a short judgment of
only some nine pages. Effectively it deals with the parade in
Dunloy to and from a church service. The conclusion is this, "Where
there is a threat of disorder the Court of Appeal in this jurisdiction
has followed the line of authority that says, `in a democratic
society if there is such a threat to public disorder the proportionate
response would be to ban, reroute or curtail the parade rather
than have the police secure the parade taking place'". Because
of that judgment, it is my own legal opinion, I am always open
to any other contrary legal opinion, it has effectively copper-fastened
a rioter's charter, as I indicated earlier. Whether the Commission,
either directly from objectors, or from information given to it
by the police, is told that objectors may or will or would create
a balancing of circumstances if the parade is permitted then for
the Parades Commissioninevitably history shows unfortunately
this is the casethe way out is to ban, reroute or curtail
the parade. Having had this decision now handed down from the
Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland, I would be amazed if the
Parades Commission ever come to a contrary view than that. Portadown
had applied on more than one occasion to have a determination
redetermined, but they have never gone to the courts to date.
With this particular precedent, as you know that is how we operate,
I think it is highly unlikely that in most circumstances there
is any likelihood that Portadown would secure any change in the
determination by going to the courts as it currently stands. I
think it is a very difficult decision to get around for Portadown.
It does permit those who threaten violence and disorder a free
487. In order to pursue the human rights of
those who wish to parade peacefully, have you considered whether
or not that judgment is appealable to the House of Lords and are
there any plans to take it that far?
(Mr Monteith) I was not the solicitor who brought
the Dunloy case. My only understanding of it was when I was sent
a copy of the judgment. All I can say is that with the time limits
that have passed since it was handed down I would have thought
that it appears, and I use that phrase, that there are no plans
to appeal it in the Dunloy situation, because the time for appeal
has long since past. I have no personal knowledge of that being
done. I think that is as far as I can go on that.
488. I would like to return to judicial precedent
in a moment, but before I do that, Mr Monteith, in your memorandum
to us you claimed and, indeed, you did when you opened this session,
that the Parades Commission ignored efforts made by the District
in the period July 1999 to July 2000. I believe you said in the
introduction the Government ignored you in respect of conversations
you had had with ministers. Just for clarity, would it be possible
for you to disclose, first of all, what those efforts were and
what evidence you have to say that they were ignored?
(Mr Monteith) It depends on how long you have, Mr
Clarke. I will try and keep within bounds. Prior to the start
of 1999 there had been considerable efforts at all levels within
the Orange Institution to try to avoid what happened in July 1998
reoccurring. There was a series of engagements. Coming up to the
marching season in July 1999 there were a series of processes
and they were being directly coordinated, certainly we felt, from
10 Downing Street and they had the input of Frank Blair and a
series of meetings at Interpoint. At those earlier meetings, Portadown
District took full part in the first two sessions, the residents
had no interest in the first two sessions; The third part of Frank
Blair's process was to have us all in separate rooms at the Interpoint
Complex in Belfast with an effort to resolve that year or any
other year's parades. Those sessions got absolutely nowhere. They
are documented and minuted and I am sure all the information will
be made available to you. Immediately after that the Prime Minister's
office, through Mr Powell and through the First Minister David
Trimble, then tried again. We all ended up in separate rooms again
at Stormont House. After that there were further meetings, and
I am sure Mr Trimble has advised you about, I do not propose to
go into those. There was the intervention by the Prime Minister
himself. There was the efforts then made on 4 July 1999 by the
Portadown District, which led to a very peaceful July. In the
subsequent meetings that I had with the Parades Commission, the
last Commission, if I can use that phrase, we were told, Mr Trimble,
myself and Mr Campbell were present, "We only have your word
for it that you are making any efforts to do anything". We
then had the Adam Ingram process, which, again, was carefully
minuted by the secretariat there, and I am sure all of that is
available to you. We wished to have the Parades Commission present
through their observers at those face-to-face talks or discussions.
The residents refused. The residents refused to have a video taken.
They refused to have verbatim minutes. They argued most of the
time at subsequent meetings about what the minutes were as taken
by the secretariat. They did not wish the minutes to go to the
Parades Commission. They stymied every possible effort for us
to demonstrate to the Parades Commission that we were actively
engaging to see what the legitimate concerns of the residents
were and how we could legitimately address them or try and deal
with them. There was nothing they did not try to stymie that whole
process. When it got to the situation where they could not do
any more they walked out. I respectfully say those are our efforts.
They are all minuted and they are all recorded. If you have any
difficulty in getting any of those documents we will certainly
furnish you with any documents you require or request. Those are
the efforts. The evidence really speaks for itself. We were simply
told, "You have not engaged, you have done nothing".
489. I am grateful for that. I am sure the Clerk
can follow up that kind offer. One of the things we find difficult
is translating efforts and processes into practical action in
terms of what may have been offered and what was not offered.
I think that is the nitty gritty we need to get to. Turning to
the question of judicial review, whilst I accept now in your answer
to Mr Beggs' question that you feel that that was not an option
you could take forward, you were not the original solicitor, as
a Lodge have you ever sought judicial review?
(Mr Monteith) No.
490. Can you help me, it seems as if the Lodge
does not see legal challenge or judicial review as the way forward.
It does not see dialogue as a way forward, is that something that
is ruled out by Grand Lodge? If you take out those two, dialogue
or legal challenge, what is left?
(Mr Monteith) You only take a legal challenge where
you have some prospect of success. If there were any prospects
of success or if the precedents were not against you or circumstances
changed, that would be reviewed as and when it occurs. With regard
to dialogue, there has been engagement with all parties directly
and indirectly by Portadown District. The net result is that we
are in the same position today as we were in July 1998. With regard
to there being a way forward, I shudder to suggest that the Court
of Appeal indirectly has suggested a way forward and the way forward
is a greater threat. That is not something that Portadown District
would wish to embark upon. It is not their policy, because as
they made clear, every Sunday morning they are here in a peaceful
protest to walk the return route when lawfully permitted. That
has always been their approach. It is strange to find that where
the only thing that seems to influence the Parades Commission
is the threat of disorder, that other parties may consider that
in the future the only way to try to change the Drumcree position
in favour of the Portadown District is to threaten greater disorder
than that threatened by the residents. That would be an unfortunate
state of affairs, and one that we all trust would never come about.
That appears to be the import of how the Parades Commission are
dealing with the decision. They are breaking up a cycle, as they
described it, in their determination of 1998not to be remedied,
is my own submissionthey have broken it but they have not
491. Good afternoon, gentlemen, we have received
representations from people who are concerned that the Parades
Commission do not reveal the sources of their knowledge, in other
words they do not give out what the police have told them and
what others have told them. What representations have been made
to the Commission from your particular District concerning access
to police advice on particular marches? Have you been aware of
any situation when the Parades Commission have acted contrary
to police advice?
(Mr Monteith) I think the short answer is we are unaware
of what the police advice has been to the Parades Commission.
It has never been revealed to us. We are unaware of the Parades
Commission acting contrary to any advice they received.
492. In your contacts with the police, have
you ever had a feeling that they may have felt differently from
what the Commission eventually directed?
(Mr Burrows) We have had contact with the police and
I know we did ask them on many occasions what input they have
to the Parades Commission and on each occasion they say that they
do not have an input. We think that they are bound to have an
input. We know the local commanders have always said, "We
have not spoken to anybody", they put it over that way. We
just get a blank answer from them.
493. To what extent have the operations of the
Commission been affected by the other initiatives you have been
involved with, such as those from the Government? What is your
assessment of the degree of coordination between the Commission
and other bodies? Has the Commission's effectiveness suffered
(Mr Burrows) Even though going back to 1998 there
have been proximity talks, the Parades Commission have always
stayed back from that and did not even get involved. One church
leader within the town on one occasion in 1998-1999 did ask the
question, "What about the proximity talks? What about the
talks that are going on?" I know the answer from the Commission
then was, "We are not aware what happened at those talks".
It highlights how keen the Parades Commission were. If they were
taking decisions on parades and there was something happening
between the two parties you would have thought that the Parades
Commission would make sure they knew what was going on there,
never mind being close at hand. I know they did not force a point
also in the talks about Adam Ingram, they had the chance there
as well. Again, the same with the residents when they moved the
goalposts. All the time we were trying to find out what their
concerns were about the parade, this was a parade that went down
in 1997 and there was not a problem. There has not been any problem
of trouble any year. Then the Parades Commission would have had
a good opportunity to turn around and say to the residents groups,
"Move away, we want to bring in a bigger circle of the community
into the consideration on this parade".
(Mr Dawson) Just as a footnote to that, when you apply
for a parade they issue a determination. I apply for all the parades
on behalf of the District and I get all the determinations. Each
and every one of them to this day, and the one which arrived yesterday,
continues to say, "In the absence of any meaningful dialogue".
The Commission by their own admission are saying that every process
we have been in from day one, including the ones that have been
chaired by Government Ministers are meaningless because they have
turned around and said to us, "In the absence of any meaningful
dialogue". They have answered that question for you.
494. Surely the Commission could not very well
say that all of the contracts with the Prime Minister have not
been meaningful dialogue. Have you felt him sympathetic and understanding
to your position?
(Mr Dawson) The Prime Minister has said on more than
one occasion that the Portadown District have been imaginative
and have moved and have boldly taken steps. The action we have
taken, particularly in 1999, deserves reciprocation from another
quarter. The other quarter we took to mean the Residents' Coalition.
The Prime Minister has made that statement publicly and privately
to us. Once again, I refer to the determinations of the Parades
Commission churned out to me on a weekly basis, "In the absence
of any meaningful dialogue". They are saying that is irrelevant.
495. The final question to Mr Monteith, would
you accept as far as the law exists on the mainland that it has
been clearly determined that where a breach of the peace is likely
to take place, action should be taken against those who are going
to break the peace and not against lawful people?
(Mr Monteith) I understand that that is the case.
I think Mr Justice Sedley gave a decision to that effect. You
can check that, Mr Thompson. We had rather hoped in this jurisdiction
that law breakers would not be rewarded, but unfortunately the
current decision appears to suggest that the way out for the Commission
is to simply say, "Risk of disorder therefore ban".
Banning is what happens as far as the return route here is concerned,
which is unfortunate. Certainly the Chief Constable has made it
clear that whatever decision is taken by the Commission he will
enforce it. Therefore, we are under the impression that should
the Commission have made a decision in our favour, that the police
and the security forces would have taken the appropriate action
to ensure there was a peaceful, orderly and dignified parade from
the church back to Carleton Street down the Garvaghy Road.
496. What changes would the Portadown Lodge
like to the see in the composition, power and methods of operation
of the Parades Commission?
(Mr Monteith) Speaking personally it depends whether
or not the Commission is to remain or not. Ideally if the Commission
were removed and we were back to where we were in 1997, that did
not cause Portadown District any difficulties in all of those
number of years, I anticipate that would be the preferred option.
I would think that it is highly unlikely that the police would
wish to return to that position, I would be surprised if they
did. Therefore, if that is the case, something will have to remain.
A personal view is that if the Commission has to remain it is
then a question of them properly fulfilling their mandate as per
the Act of Parliament, that is not to ignore the promotion and
the facilitation of mediation. I made a personal submission to
you have that in writing, that is my own personal view that if
the Commission continues to exist that is how they should do it.
I made that submission, again personally, when the review was
taking place. The Secretary of State at a meeting we had with
him, that was the last Secretary of State, he said that some effort
should be made with regard to the facilitation of mediation. Nothing
has ever been done about that, Mr Beggs, at all. I do not see
any great difficulty in Commissioners, or some of them, being
actively engaged in some form of taking of evidence in a different
way or mediating in a different way to allow them to fully assess
and publicly do it, just the way a judge would do it in a Diplock
court, where he is judge and jury, to properly assess whether
or not there are legitimate concerns for the residents, whether
their grievances have been properly considered and whether they
been properly addressed by those wishing to parade. No matter
how many times we ask, and we have done it through every process
that has been outlined, and it was finally done through Brian
Currin not many weeks ago, please tell us, "What do the residents
want us to do to facilitate that parade down the Garvaghy Road?"
They have yet to tell us that after all of these years. If there
was a different way of mediation or facilitation it would not
be very hard for a Commissioner to ask that question. If he did
not get a direct answer, and having got a direct answer if he
did not get a proper reply he can then base his judgment, his
determination on that. It is a passing the buck process at the
minute, whereby the Commission say, "Brian Currin is here,
we will let him do something, Portadown are not engaging".
Even if we engage with Brian Currin they say, "There has
not been enough engagement, you have not done enough", so
it goes on and on. I hope that assists, Mr Beggs.
497. The memorandum comments that the future
success of the Parades Commission depends entirely on its acceptance
by the whole community. Are there any further changes you believe
would help to secure that broader acceptance?
(Mr Burrows) I think that the Parades Commission in
the Portadown District, and in most of the Loyal Orders, believe
that the Parades Commission was brought in to stop parades and
because certain people said that they did not want to have those
parades. The inconsistency of the Parades Commission, take the
likes of Kilkeal, where there would be a very high percentage
of protestants in the community, we see a parade there a couple
of times a year and it is allowed by people who are not from that
town, they are allowed to come in and parade in the town. If they
were using the same criteria as they are using for themselves
in the Drumcree Parade via the Garvaghy Road, they would not be
allowed to parade, so it is the inaccuracies that we see within
the Commission. We only have the problems we do have with them
because they seem to be there not to facilitate but they are not
even looking at an ideal way to sort out the problem. As Richard
has said, if somebody has a grievance and there is a threat of
violence, they are going to win. It is a sorry sight. It also
makes people wonder what way you do go about a parade. That is
hard to take for law abiding people.
498. I have a question I want to ask in conclusion,
but let me just verify whether there any other supplementary questions
any of my colleagues want to ask. I think not. I have a naive
question to ask and I also run the risk of seeming stupid as a
result of asking it, but I would rather ask it than not. On July
12 last year various members of the Committee went to watch various
parades, as I think was known. Indeed in some cases we watched
colleagues on the Committee taking part in parades. I did not
myself go to Drumcree, although various of my colleagues did.
I was in Antrim town and Ballymena. Let me first ask a ground
clearing question, I would like to go right back to the answer
Mr Dawson gave me earlier, am I right in understanding that of
the five traditional parades you identify, Drumcree is the only
one which creates problems?
(Mr Burrows) I would say that Drumcree really does
not cause problems; we have people who are inclined to cause problems
by stopping that. The five traditional parades, there is no objection
to them at the minute. There was an objection on 12 July on the
route which they used to take via Obins Street. After the first
stand-off in 1995 the eight country LodgesPortadown is
made up of 32 Lodgesthen decided that in the interests
of the community that they would go another route. On 12 July
there used to a problem in the Portadown District as divided by
a rerouting and they went another road. Why we feel so strongly
about the Drumcree one is because it is a church service and we
find it very hard to see why people could be thought to be offended,
especially at that time of the day.
499. I apologise for the language I used. I
was not seeking to say you were causing a problem, I was using
a descriptive language to say there was a problem with one of
the parades whencesoever the trouble came. You have answered the
question which I asked. Because I did not go to Drumcree and because
I have not had the common intelligence to look at an Ordnance
Survey map I do not know whether it is the case that there are
only two routes between Drumcree Church and the Lodge in Carleton
Street. Is it the case that there are?
(Mr Dawson) There is another route which would be
down a shorter, more direct route, but would bring you back into
part of route that we walked out. There is a round circle route,
where we walk out via one route and back via another. The residents
have suggested we take a seven and a half mile detour, but we
have not taken them up on that one.
1 See Appendix 4, p 204. Back