RESPONSE OF THE INDEPENDENT LOYAL ORANGE
INSTITUTION TO THE INDEPENDENT REVIEW OF PARADES AND MARCHES 1997
"There is a certain people scattered abroad
and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of thy kingdom;
and their laws are diverse from all people; neither keep they
the king's laws: therefore it is not for the king's profit to
Section A Basis of the Report
Section B The Human Rights Framework
Section C The Proposals
Section D The Proposed Star Chamber (Parades
Section E Guidelines, Procedures and Codes
Section F Summary
Annex 1 Submission to the Northern Ireland
Forum for Political Dialogue
The composition and terms of reference of the
Independent Review of Parades and Marches predetermined that it
would be intellectual but highly prejudiced. The arguments are
coherent but lack basic common sense. Amidst inaccuracies (3.27)
and misunderstandings (1.32) they also have a distinct anti-Protestant
and anti-Orange bias and prejudice (3.8). We reject the notion
that because Orangeism is opposed to Roman Catholicism that it
is consequently anti-catholic. This is a jesuitical interpretation.
Protestantism is, after all, opposed to Roman Catholicism. This
section of the report is a direct attack on our right to hold
and express religious views. North quotes the views of the Community
Relations Council (6.27) but ignores that sensible position and
instead seeks to institutionalise conflict.
A. BASIS OF
The report goes to great lengths to ignore the
role of militant nationalism in blocking, or attempting to block
roads, against Orange parades. Section 2.5, 2.6 and 4.12 on dealing
with the Portadown parades conveniently forgets or ignores that
the residents of Garvaghy Road planned to and physically blocked
that road, breaking existing law, threatening violence and forcing
the RUC to seek to stop Orangemen from parading. Thus the report
seeks to focus attention on parades as a problem, rather than
those who by illegal and undemocratic means seek to deny the right
of free assembly and expression to Protestants. It is our contention
that the problem is not parades but those who actively block the
It is also worth noting that the current levels
of parades which militant nationalists seeks to stop is still
relatively small. Nevertheless in response to this Nationalist
pressure the government has seen fit to establish the North Inquisition
which has in turn recommended, amongst other draconian measures,
the establishment of a Star Chamber with a range of repressive
guidelines, codes and potential legislation worthy of any previous
tyrannical Star Chamber. The report further assumes that Nationalists,
after an accommodation has been reached, will stick to the agreement.
This scenario is contrary to the experience of the last 25 years
where every accommodation by Unionists has been merely a stepping
stone for further Nationalist demands. Can the Nationalist leopard
change his spots?
B. THE HUMAN
North draws our attention to the international
conventions and legislation amongst the international community
which guarantee the rights of free and peaceful assembly, freedom
of expression, freedom of speech and freedom of religion. It is
unfortunate that the intention of the North Review is to undermine
these freedoms and ignore the fact that in all international legislation
the right of free passage is paramount.
The section on "The Law in Other Countries"
is most illuminating.
1. The Republic of Ireland. Our experience
of the legislation and arrangements in the Republic of Ireland
is based on our extensive discussions with An Garda Siochana prior
to our parades in that jurisdiction in June 1990. On that occasion
we had the privilege of being the only Orange body to take a demonstration
to the Boyne on the Tercentenary of the Battle of the Boyne. Obviously
there were many delicate discussions involving only ourselves
and the Garda. We passed through various sensitive towns and paraded
at Oldbridge with bands, regalia, lambeg drums carrying the Union
flag and with the ability to sing the British national anthem.
It is ironic that such an event can be accomplished with opposition
and yet without incident in the Republic of Ireland and limitations
on these freedoms are being opposed in Northern Ireland.
2. Belgium. The Belgian legislation supports
free association and peaceful assembly and is qualified to ensure
that those intending to provoke disorder or riot are prohibited.
Translating this to the Northern Ireland situation, it is clear
that the Nationalists and not the Orangemen are those who would
fall foul of the law.
3. Italy. Here the "first in"
with a notice of assembly would be allowed to proceed. Clearly
traditional parades in Northern Ireland would have to be regarded
as being the "first in".
4. Germany. The Clause in Article 8 of the
German constitution that "no person has the right to disrupt
an orderly public assembly or procession" is of particular
5. The United States. Here, as outlined
in 8.61, the right to march even in directly hostile areas is
protected and defended.
Given the overwhelming international evidence
in support of peaceful assembly and parade and against those who
would create riot, disruption or threat of violence, it is beyond
belief that the North team in 9.2 elevates those who disrupt the
right of peaceful assembly.
Nationalists and Roman Catholics who object
to Orange principles and Orangemen are of course free to do so.
We fail to understand why they should object, however, it is their
right to do so. They have a right to protest, to persuade, to
picket, but they do not have any right to block the road to stop
an Orange parade. Thus we reject the notion of North that there
are competing rights in this situation. There may be complementary
rights but there are no competing rights. Each has the right of
C. THE PROPOSALS
In making proposals, the North Review Body exhibits
contradictory and inconsistent behaviour. They state that "neither
the law nor changes to it can of themselves resolve the underlying
anxieties or heal the divisions". The report then goes on
to recommend radical amendments to the Public Order (N.I.) Order
1987 (which was itself a product of the rejected Anglo Irish Agreement)
and the establishment of a statutory parades commission and a
legislative framework (including offences) within which it will
operate. So much for being "concerned throughout our work
to avoid creating an Orwellian structure that bears down oppressively
on the rights of groups and individuals".
In paragraph 11.19 a series of fundamental principles
are listed as the basis for the development of processes and procedures
to address the issue of conflict over parades. Subsequently in
the proposal, North ignores or fails to fulfil many of these.
(a) "The right to peaceful free assembly
should (subject to certain qualifications) be protected".
The review proposals would impose many and major
qualifications which would, far from protecting free assembly,
directly hinder free assembly and weigh disproportionately on
our section of the community since the majority of parades come
from within that community. Thus the right of Protestants to free
assembly is seriously infringed.
(b) "The exercise of that right brings
with it certain responsibilities; in particular those seeking
to exercise that right should take account of the likely effect
of doing so on the relationships with other parts of the community
and be prepared to temper their approach accordingly".
In moral and human rights terms this is patently
false. Should one temper their views on stealing to protect the
robber? Either we have the right to free assembly or we do not,
North should be honest enough to answer this point.
(c ) "All those involved should work
towards resolution of difficulties through local accommodation".
Local accommodation and resolution in any situation
is only possible if both sides are committed to the preservation
of existing structures. In paragraph 12.17 reference is made to
a comparative body in the labour relations field. This comparison
is false. The Labour Relations Agency is involved in any dispute
only with the agreement of both sides. Its role is to mediate
on the basis of existing legislation. Its findings are not binding
unless previously agreed. However, the fundamental difference
is that in the labour relations field both union and company are
equally committed to the mutual and continuing success of the
economic enterprise. In Northern Ireland, Nationalists are not
committed either to the continuance of the existence of the country
or the right of Protestants to remain in that country or indeed
the right of Protestants to freely express their religion, heritage
(d) "In the exercise of the rights and
responsibilities those involved must neither commit or condone
criminal acts or offensive behaviour".
The very existence of the North Review is as
a result of those who sought by committing and condoning criminal
acts to stop Protestants exercising their civil rights, by blocking
roads and thus breaking existing law. Thus this report and the
proposals from it are a reward and encouragement to lawbreakers.
(e) "The legislation and its application
must comply with the United Kingdom's obligations under international
law and provide no encouragement for those who seek to promote
As above, the message from the North report
is "seek to promote disorder" and you will be rewarded.
Those Nationalists who blocked the passage of legal Orange parades
are now to have their rejections of law enshrined in law.
(f) "The structure for and process of
adjudication of disputes over individual parades should be clear
and applied consistently with as much openness as possible".
The recommendations of North certainly fail
to promote clarity and openness, rather they are shrouded in confusion.
The inevitable consequence of the decisions of the Commission
will be a series of judicial reviews challenging its decisions.
Thus the clarity and openness will not be achieved by the Commission.
An advisory commission would be no more helpful
since it would be seen as official mischief making.
The details of recommendation 23 (13.34) also
What would the Commission/Review
Body's adjudication be on existing routes? We reject the distinction
made between town centres and main roads and we further assert
the existence of, and demand recognition of, traditional parades.
How would they assess the impact
on the local community? What objective criteria would be used?
What purposes would be more acceptable
than others? What criteria would be used to decide? We once again
assert the special position of traditional parades.
What features would be acceptable
or unacceptable and why?
Would there be a recommended approach?
Would Protestants be forced to talk/negotiate with Sinn Fein/I.R.A.
Even if guidelines were possible, the "residents
groups", so called, could simply shift the goal posts to
get around them. Such groups are not motivated by principle but
by a single desire to stop Protestants/Orangemen from marching.
The Loyal Orders, on the other hand, operate within a clearly
defined set of law abiding and constitutional principles.
The proposed code of conduct is similarly woolly
and unclear. (We will return to this later)
The relationships between the Commission, Secretary
of State and the RUC are also confused and will lead to antagonism
D. THE PROPOSED
Paragraph 12.23 declares that the new body should
assist the search for accommodation. Unfortunately they propose
to institutionalise conflict. This body will attract malcontents
and troublemaking elements making it what has been termed a "factory
of grievances". Moreover paragraph 12.102 allows the commission
to review its decision on a route, due to demographic change.
This is clearly a charter for ethnic cleansing.
It should be noted that any appointments to
the parades commission will in part, as the Public Order (N.I.)
Order 1987, be influenced by Dublin. Thus the assumption that
the RUC will be under less pressure if decisions on parades are
taken by this Commission is fundamentally flawed. The RUC will
be seen as enforcing the decisions of a Dublin influenced body.
Hardly the recipe for acceptance by the Unionist community.
Moreover we believe that, far from settling
any parading issue, the decisions of the Commission would inevitably
and continuously be subject to judicial review. It is noticeable
that the Review body have themselves no confidence in the acceptability
of the decisions of their own Commission. This is evidenced by
the fact that, to back up its decisions, it has to be strengthened
with the creation of new criminal offences. These draconian measures
are of course, proposed to be used primarily against the Protestant
community and the Loyal Orders which are pledged to uphold the
law. Why can such measures not already be used against existing
lawbreakers who seek to stop legitimate and legal parades?
In summary, the Commission is an unaccountable
quango which seeks to justify itself by taking roles from existing
bodies. For example, it claims to seek to promote understanding-this
is already within the remit of the Community Relations Council.
It claims to exist to promote mediation-yet this is also the role
of the Mediation Network. The Commission is blatant in seeking
to take the role of the police in its decisions concerning parades.
The suggestion that sensitive parades should
receive publicity from the Commission or using other methods is
of course naive and counter productive. Surely it would be more
helpful to minimise publicity for such parades. To facilitate
such publicity and other spurious reasons, the proposal is made
to extend the period of notice to 21 days. This is neither helpful
nor necessary. Most traditional parades are known about well in
advance. Church parades occur on the same Sunday year after year.
Indeed Twelfth demonstrations also follow a clearly defined rota,
in most cases. There is a clear case for treating church parades
and major demonstration days as being exempt of notice. The Salvation
Army already benefit from such an exemption.
Paragraph 12.76 suggests the extension of a
code of conduct and a notice regime for open-air meeting. This
has clear and significant implications for religious liberty.
It is a short step from notice for religious meetings to fully
fledged state licensing of religion. This has been rejected in
all generations and will be in this generation also.
The proposed relationships between the Commission,
The Secretary of State and the RUC are confused and will lead
to confusion. In extreme circumstances the RUC will be able to
make its own decisions. This is an encouragement for extremists
to block parades. The main report in paragraph 12.125 sets out
a number of "sanctions" which are meant to act as an
initial deterrent to anyone who planned to defy the Commission.
These "sanctions" serve to illustrate the arrogance
of the North Review team. Few Orangemen would lose any sleep over
the threat that "they would be damned at the bar of international
opinion" or that they would "receive no plaudits from
the great majority of reasonable people in Northern Ireland".
Indeed the Review team recognise this, and therefore, go on to
suggest the introduction of a new offence which will be used predominately
against Protestants. Then in a further recommendation (30) the
Report suggests that the Commission, like a stern Headmaster,
would take into account any previous perceived bad behaviour by
parade organisers when considering a fresh proposal for a parade.
Orangemen in their ritual prayers, record their
thanks to God for delivering our nation from "tyranny and
arbitrary power". The North proposals return us to "tyranny
and arbitrary power".
The guidelines, like the entire Report are very
vague and are a virtual "blank cheque".
1. PHYSICAL LOCATION
The Report follows a Nationalist line here and
states that all town centres should be open to all peaceful parades-even
parades by those who support violence. (We suggest that all traditional
parades, and those who give a declaration that they will not use
violence to overthrow a democratically constituted state should
have access to towns.)
The Report seeks to take villages as a separate
case, as they claim more residents live there. This is a flawed
argument. People live along the main streets of most towns. Surely
a more logical argument would be that of "commercial areas"
ie an area of 50 per cent plus of commercial buildings no matter
what size the town or village may be. In any case we assert that
all traditional parades should be allowed in towns and villages.
(It is interesting that the Report makes no attempt to define
"town" or "village"could this be an
attempt perhaps to turn all circumstances against Protestants?)
Here the Report parrots the Nationalist line
in contradiction to all British and international legal precedent.
We do not see the distinction between town centres and main routes.
Again how acceptable alternative routes are to be determined is
not stated. Surely if the locals could tolerate "Loyalist"
parades when they first moved into the area, then they should
tolerate them now.
2. IMPACT ON
Here Nationalist waffle abounds. No loyalist
parade would hinder access to hospitals. Larger parades are held
on public holidays or Saturdays so schools and many businesses
are already shut. The major exception is the Apprentice Boys parade
on 12 August in Londonderry, which brings thousands of visitors
into that city, as indeed do all major demonstrations. The visitors
of course bring revenue to the local traders and shopkeepers.
All other parades are held either in the evening,
Saturday afternoon or, in the case of church parades, on Sunday
when commercial activity is at a minimum. The Report's argument
is therefore weak.
The idea that the Parades Commission could rule
on the number of parades in an area is surely contrary to the
statements on human rights they have previously quoted or will
Protestants not have any rights?
In referring to the size of the parade and how
long it takes to pass, the Report has perhaps made its first valid
point. The fact is that in most cases, especially church parades,
the entire parade rarely takes more than 15 minutes to pass and
this annually. Objections on the grounds of disruption in such
cases are usually a manifestation of intolerance by the locals
and nothing else. The larger demonstrations, aside from Belfast,
Ballymena and Londonderry which are large towns/cities, are not
held on an annual basis, so again the disruption is say 2 ½
hours every 5-10 years. Hardly cause for complaint.
The stipulation that the parade should take
up half of the road to allow free passage to traffic is unacceptable.
If free passage means vehicular traffic can move at top speed,
the safety implications for those on parade are horrendous.
3. FEATURES OF
Is this an attempt to stop large demonstrations
in smaller towns and villages? If not, then it is stating the
The Report states that the approach by the parade
organisers to reaching accommodation should be a factor in allowing
a parade through. Why does the same not apply to those who threaten
disorder in the first place?
A Code of Conduct is suggested for both marchers
and protestors. The idea (paragraph 13.42) that the Parades Commission
can draw up Guidelines, amend them and enforce them is the antithesis
of democratic accountability. Guidelines must be subject to democratic
scrutiny, as must the judgments and activities of the Commission.
The code is a particularly sinister aspect which
equates the properly constituted Loyal Orders with the various
ad hoc and dubious "concerned residents" groups.
In the main Report at paragraph 13.42 the Review team give sample
codes for marchers and protestors. The code for marchers is extremely
detailed and refers specifically to flagsan aspect which
is not included in the protestors' code. How can a protestors
code ever be enforced? The finger will always be pointed at those
in regalia and on parade, while the protestors can wash their
hands of any unruly elements in their ranks by simply disowning
them if necessary.
Section B refers to overtly paramilitary style
clothing/regalia. No definition is given of these terms. We believe
that the historical uniforms of Carson's UVF should be permitted.
Section F makes the absurd requirement that
where the "majority population of the vicinity are of a different
tradition" no party tunes should be played. How is vicinity
to be defined? Are the organisers of a march expected to calculate
the likely distance and direction to be travelled by the sound
of their music? The references to the avoidance of "conduct,
words or music likely to cause offence or stir up sectarian antagonism
and behaviour which could reasonably be perceived as threatening,
abusive or insulting" are equally subjective. What test could
reasonably be applied to determine whether these things have occurred?
Section G refers to flags. Just what does the
Report have in mind when it seeks to prohibit scenes which could
be conceived to be threatening, insulting etc. Could this include
Ridley and Latimer at the stake or the massacre of Protestants
at Portadown or the 36th Ulster Division Battle Standards? (This
should be more clearly defined as restricting illegal paramilitary
banners or flags). Since flags are to be lowered passing War Memorials
how is this going to be enforced against Nationalists' parades?
Section H concerns stewards. Who is to provide
the training? Is the training to be RUC approved?
Section J concerns dispersal. To put the responsibility
of this on organisers is absurd and could never work in practice.
Indeed it is not relevant at events such as bonfires, Lundy burnings
We also note the dangerous intention that the
code could be made statutory. This a further draconian and unnecessary
Places of Worship
These recommendations are impracticable, unfair
and indeed silly. The idea that people should be forced to show
more respect for a church which they believe to be wrong, than
that accorded to their own, is totally unfair. Furthermore, church
buildings, being wood, brick and mortar cannot see or hear and
therefore cannot be offended. It is those who attend who can be
offended. If they have gone home, then, as long as their building
remains untouched, they cannot be offended, no matter what music
We believe that the present guideline, which
states that bands should cease playing when a service is in progress,
is agreeable to the principles of civil and religious liberty
and are entirely adequate. It would require little additional
effort for the RUC to ascertain if a parade clashed with a service
and inform the parade organisers.
Section C. What exactly is conduct, words or
music likely to cause offence? Surely this depends on the lack
of tolerance of the local community? For example, Orangemen walking
silently down the Garvaghy Road in Portadown apparently caused
great offence. When people are that intolerant is there any hope
We will support all the measures designed to
reduce the incidence of alcohol abuse.
The Review of Parades and Marches by North if
implemented will have a differential impact on the Protestant
community. Since the majority of parades come from within the
Protestant community, any legislation introduced to implement
North's recommendations would not be based on any fair treatment
criteria. The North recommendations in general are sinister, highly
dangerous, and a recipe for disaster. They clearly have human
rights implications. Contrary to the statement by North that they
have been "concerned throughout our work to avoid creating
an Orwellian structure that bears down oppressively on the rights
of groups and individuals" that is exactly what they are
recommending. The proposed structures, far from helping to achieve
greater understanding and tolerance, will create further polarisation.
The proposals are a thinly veiled attempt to appease the Sinn
Fein led "concerned residents" associations and to place
Protestant traditions and culture in a nationalist-inspired straitjacket.
Sadly, they are but a further manifestation of the current climate
of "political correctness" which, in Northern Ireland
terms, means a policy of reverse discrimination in favour of Roman
Catholicism and nationalism.