INDEPENDENT LOYAL ORANGE INSTITUTION RESPONSE
TO draft PROCEDURAL RULES, GUIDELINES AND CODE OF CONDUCT FOR
PUBLIC PROCESSIONS AND PARADES
"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear
thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth."
"We will rejoice in thy salvation, and in
the name of our God we will set up our banners:"
The above institution rejected the establishing
of a Parades Commission on the grounds that it:
1. placed the emphasis for public disorder
in the wrong place ie it was not the parades which cause trouble
but those intolerant people who wish to stop the parades;
2. was a draconian measure, equivalent to
a Star Chamber, which would weigh more heavily on the Protestant
community, with its significant marching tradition, than on the
3. had a membership which could not be independent
or impartial; and
4. would lead to institutionalised conflict
on parades and provoke judicial reviews of its findings.
The publication of the draft documents serves
only to confirm our original thinking. Moreover the recent resignation
of one of the members of the Commission would confirm the unacceptability
of the nature and scope of the body. The Commission and its publications
have been put in place to placate a vociferous, and often violent,
minority who have no wish to allow people of a different religious
identity the freedom to express that religion in a peaceful, non-confrontational
and traditional manner.
Given the thrust of Government policy we do
not expect that, at this time, there will be significant changes
to the draft. The current consultation process is a sham designed
to give credibility to a body which already has fixed views, or
has been given fixed views by its political masters. Nevertheless
we feel obliged to highlight the lack of understanding of our
principled position, the discrimination, the denial of religious
liberty and the impracticality of these proposals.
Ultimately such denials of human and religious
rights will fail. Moreover the one-sided nature of the documents,
in that they concern only parades without placing restrictions
on counter-demonstrations and those who organise them, is unbelievable
The Independent Loyal Orange Institution is
a "religious and loyal brotherhood" dedicated to the
promotion and defence of the Protestant religion. We are not,
and never have been allied to any political party. Constitutionally
we express a unionist view, but that unionism is dependent upon
the British Throne and Constitution "being Protestant".
The parades in connection with our Institution
are themselves an expression, a public witness, of our religion.
Without exception they are to a religious service, either in church
or in the open air. Our banners, flags, regalia, and often band
uniforms and equipment have been dedicated, by Ministers of Religion,
to the Glory of God.
In what other democratic country are there such
restrictions on the expression of religion as outlined in the
Draft documents of the Parades Commission? How can they justify
such curtailments of religious expression?
The guidelines as published take no account
of the essential religious character of the parades and processions
in connection with the Independent Loyal Orange Institution.
They draw heavily on the anti-parade "North
Report" which was the product of a Romanist, an Ecumenist
and a non-entity. It is hardly surprising that it produced a set
of proposals which was heavily weighted against parades. Our rejection
of, and detailed response to, the North Report is already in the
public domain. Any document which has the North Report as its
foundation is inevitably biased against Protestant parades.
Overall, the guidelines are an open invitation
to those who oppose parades to create public disorder, disruption,
contest routes, claim offence and restriction, and in any and
every way possible raise objections to parades in the knowledge
that the Parades Commission will force the organisers of parades
to "address the concerns of others", whether real, imagined
or deliberately manipulated. In this way the threat of the use
of force is dangerously legitimised. A culture of concessions
following the threat of violence is being created. This is damaging
to the concept of democracy.
Thus the Commission will become the focus of
malcontents, troublemakers and political activists who are intent
upon disruption of human rights and the creation of community
tension and strife. It is noticeable that the Commission places
little emphasis on restricting the activities of those who, in
blocking, attacking and reacting to parades, have been responsible
for widespread violence and destruction.
The guidelines call for local accommodation,
the use of facilitators and the taking of soundings from local
residents' groups. This involves negotiating our faith, and the
way we express it, with groups infiltrated by paramilitary organisations,
backed by paramilitary organisations or groups supportive of the
use of fascist tactics. No other religious expression is treated
in this way. This is fundamentally wrong.
In the event that the Commission does reach
a conclusion and issue a legal "determination" there
is no indication that either side will accept the views of the
Commission leading, at best, to judicial reviews and, at worst,
a greater number of contested parade routes and civil disorder.
The procedural rules, as outlined, fail to take
into account the essential religious character of the parades
and processions in connection with the Independent Loyal Orange
They list the steps that this "factory
of grievances" known as the Commission will take in order
to place limits on parades. They are a step by step guide to restrictions
In addition, there is some evidence of conflict
within the procedures. Paragraph 1.3 states that in most areas,
"a pattern has emerged of parades held on a regular cycle."
This is certainly true in our situation with parades being held
on the same day, in the same location, year after year. Why then,
is it necessary to extend the period of notice for parades to
28 days? (paragraph 5.1) It is more logical to impose this restriction
on new parades only and, because the pattern is already known
and established, reintroduce the original five days notice for
annual and cyclical parades.
The chairman, in his introduction, betrays the
inbuilt bias against parades. The statutory responsibilities of
the Commission relate only to parades and not those who would
protest against them. Thus the Commission would have no ability
to impose restrictions on the protesters.
The chairman further refers to the cultural
and traditional aspects of parades. Our parades are about our
Protestant faith. Our Protestantism is not social, nominal, political
or carnival, rather it is spiritual and biblical.
The code of conduct starts from the misunderstanding
that all of those who object to parades can be placated by some
adjustments by those on parade. This is patently not the case.
The situation in Portadown demonstrates this very clearly.
In the Portadown situation, a parade in silence,
on one side of the carriage way, with one bannerette, once a year,
at lunch time, on a Sunday, along a main arterial route, lasting
about 15 minutes, seems to cause immense offence. The simple fact
of the matter is that those who object to the parades by Loyal
Orders, do so because they object to the people on parade, their
religion and their rights. The motivation of the objectors to
parades is the basest form of sectarian hatred.
There is an emphasis in the Code on early publication
of details concerning parades, including (routes iii) the suggestion
that details might be published of a person "whom the representatives
of the local community might approach about aspects of the parades."
Such publication could be cost prohibitive, could invite objections
where, in reality, none exist and most seriously, given the leadership
and content of some of the residents' groups, could endanger the
lives of our members.
If early publication is required, a news story
in a local newspaper should be included in the list of methods.
Moreover, the publication should only apply to major demonstrations
which would require adjustments to movement over the course of
an entire day, or for a number of hours during the course of a
day. If a paid notice is required, this should be publicly funded.
On no account should the names and addresses
of any organisers be published, unless it is the desire of the
Commission to put at risk the lives of our members.
With regard to the information concerning church
services, weddings and funerals, the Loyal Orders have a well
established routine of no music being played while passing these
if they are known beforehand. Such information, where it is not
already known, can often be passed on by the police before a parade.
This communication method should be maintained. Could we also
suggest that details of houses along a route, where a death has
occurred, should be similarly communicated.
On the subject of representations made by residents,
the Code makes a comment which betrays the lack of understanding
of its drafters about our parades. It states that, in response
to residents' objections, adjustments are "likely to amount
to little more than the furling of banners . . ." In our
case this is not a small or insignificant request. Our banners
are not unfurled in our own name or for our own glory, rather
in accordance with the injunction of Holy Scripture they are set
up in the name of God and unfurled to His Glory. (Psalm 20 verse
5 and Psalm 60 verse 4). Thus any request to furl such is, once
again, an attack on the expression of our religion.
Finally, on routes, again there is in point
iv a rather insulting insinuation. Does the Commission have any
evidence of Protestant parades which have not allowed free movement
to the emergency services? Within the loyal orders there is an
established, well understood, policy for dealing with such emergencies
without the intervention of stewards.
Stewards are regarded as important by the Code.
It is not specified if the purpose of stewards is to control those
on parade or those who might seek to disrupt a parade. This matter
needs immediate clarification.
In many cases, all members on parade, as responsible
individuals, can ensure the passage of a parade to and from its
venue without incident. Clearly many, particularly smaller, parades
require no formalised stewarding, or minimal stewarding. The Code
does state that stewards must be "fully aware of the provisions
of public order legislation", perhaps the only effective
stewards will be solicitors, barristers and members of the judiciary.
We are concerned that the provisions outlined
for stewards could allow some to establish, or legitimise an existing,
paramilitary organisation for the purposes of parades. We would
be concerned at the potential for certain law enforcement activities
to pass from the proper authorities. In particular the crowd control
aspects and the seeming provision for a basic uniform would be
of concern to us.
The Code also refers to communication methods
and training in these, as well as first aid and other aspects.
Notwithstanding our previous comments on the requirement for stewards,
where they are deemed necessary approved training routes would
need to be identified and grant assistance made available for
capital purchases (two way communication) and payment of training
providers. To expect, what are in many cases, voluntary organisations
with limited funds to comply with provisions being forced upon
them without grant funding, would be unreasonable.
In accord with our established temperance policy,
which follows on from the religious nature of our organisation
and events, we have no objection to the powers given to the police
in relation to alcohol.
This appendix brings together and augments many
stipulations previously outlined in the Code. In some cases it
requires further clarification.
In this section behaviour is defined in terms
of what is acceptable to a potential objector.
As we have seen in the Portadown situation,
this is not an acceptable benchmark.
The suggestion that all parades be positioned
on one side of the carriageway is unrealistic. Main parades are
major spectator events with onlookers on both sides of the road.
To allow traffic to pass between these spectators and a parade
would destroy the spectator enjoyment, the tourist potential and
may even endanger members of the public. Main demonstrations and
parades require more than a single carriageway to maximise the
spectator potential. The practice of closing major parade routes
to traffic for the duration of the parade should be maintained
to allow the parade to pass without delay from traffic and to
encourage the family and relaxed atmosphere which accompanies
many of our parades.
Flexibility could be the order of the day for
feeder, church parades etc.
(g) Flags etc
This section requires clarification. Many banners
include historical scenes of importance to Protestant religious
history and development. These may include scenes of martyrdoms
at the hands of the Roman Catholic authorities at that time in
history. It would not be possible for us to remove such from our
banners. To suggest that we do would be a fundamental denial of
our religious identity and development.
Similarly, there are replicas of historic battle
standards in association with Carson's UVF and the subsequent
36th Ulster Division which, forming part of Ulster's historical
development, should be permissible. Band uniforms associated with
the same history should also be permitted.
We have already expressed some concerns about
the section on stewards. However, this appendix section goes further.
Why would the police require the names and addresses of all stewards?
They already have the name and address of the organiser.
Training should be given to the police to ensure
that they do not unnecessarily over-estimate the numbers of stewards
required. Such action could alienate parade organisers and create
tension where it was not necessary. Over zealous and over officious
police officers have, in the past, created problems in communicating
and implementing such details, (see recommendations on policingbelow).
It is unreasonable to expect a steward, however
well trained, to know the identity of all persons on parade and
thus be able to provide identification information to the police.
This section should be dropped.
While, in general, co-operation with the police
is achieved and necessary, it would be unreasonable to expect
parade organisers to co-operate with the police in the case of
a banned or re-routed parade. The Parades Commission would, in
those circumstances, have to take responsibility for the breakdown
of the normally harmonious relationship between the Loyal Orders
and the police.
Consideration should be given to the appointment
of liaison officers in each police station. These would be responsible
for receiving notice from each Loyal Order, and conducting all
subsequent communication with regard to that parade. In this way
relationships of knowledge and understanding could develop, ensuring
that all sensitivities could be dealt with in an empathic manner.
We fail to understand the need to "disperse
immediately". Members may have to wait for buses or, indeed,
may wish fellowship with others they have not seen for a significant
period. Discretion would be required in this situation.
(b) War memorials and cemeteries
At war memorials, no music should be played
while passing in parade. A hymn may be played while a wreath is
While passing the war memorial all flags, with
the exception of the Union Flag, should be lowered.
At cemeteries, we see no reason why "military
march tunes" should not be permitted.
(c) Where the majority population of the vicinity
are of a different tradition and interface areas
The following require further clarification:
(2) sectarian tunes? We know of no sectarian
tunes in the repertoire of bands in association with our Institution;
(3) likely to cause offence? Refer to comments
The code does not mention this aspect. However,
we strongly believe it should be included. In keeping with our
belief that the entire day is sensitive and special, and being
conscious that our members are offended by desecration of the
Christian Sabbath, we believe that only hymn tunes should be permitted
on this day.
If empty churches and graveyards, whose residents
could hardly raise any objections, are to be accorded respect,
then is it too much to ask that the Christian Sabbath, which is
so much a part of our heritage, be accorded the same respect?
The clear intention of the Parades Commission,
and its publications, is to limit the right of free assembly for
Protestants. It has ignored the problems created by counter-demonstrations
and the motivation of many of those involved in such. It has ignored
the fact that any restrictions on parades will inevitably result
in a lack of "fair treatment" for Protestants given
the extensive parading tradition in the Protestant community.
Many of its proposals lack basic common sense and require modification
or further clarification before any serious comment can be made
Overall the Parade Commissioners demonstrate
little understanding of the Loyal Orders and what motivates them
and their parades. This is not surprising given the unbalanced
nature of the Commission itself. The one member of that Commission
who could loosely be said to come from the Protestant community
is on record as being hostile to parades "where they are
With regard to the Independent Loyal Orange
Institution, the documents as published take no account of the
special character of our Order. We are a "religious and loyal
brotherhood". Our parades, in their entirety, are an expression
of our religion. Therefore many of the restrictions proposed by
the Commission are a direct attempt to restrict the expression
and practice of our religion. This we cannot accept.
The Parades Commission needs to address, with
urgency, its position in relation to restricting the expression
and practice of religion.
1 See Ev p 200. Back
See Ev p 200. Back