Select Committee on Northern Ireland Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by the Committee on the Administration of Justice

  Let me firstly congratulate you on your speech to Parliament in the debate on the Northen Ireland Affairs Committee report on fair employment. We also appreciated the reference you made to CAJ's interest in the issue, which we took as a signal of your positive attitude to the importance of continuing vigilance by those inside and outside Parliament. Certainly for our part we will continue to monitor with interest the issue of fair employment, and we hope that we can turn to you for assistance as and when appropriate? In that connection, my colleague Maggie Beirne has already contacted the Committee Clerk to indicate that we would be keen to receive the written responses promised by the Minister in the course of the debate.

  The main purpose of this letter, however, is in response to the recent announcement of the Committee's decision to inquire into the work of the Parades Commission. We learnt of the review in that same phone call with the Clerk, and—in the event that it may be of use to you—we have attached by way of appendix a list of some of the key organisations operating in this field. Most of them will presumably have received your press release, and may indeed have already been in touch, but there may be some who are unaware of your work and yet be very interested in contributing.

  The Committee on the Administration of Justice is—as you will know from our testimony on policing to the Committee—very involved in questions of public order policing, and the parades issue. I attach a range of the publications and submissions we have issued on the topic and I would draw your particular attention to the submission we made most recently to the NIO review of the marching issue. Suffice it to say, that we found the terms of reference of that review unnecessarily constraining, which may explain to some extent the problems its conclusions have run into since. While of course the issues of mediation which the NIO concentrated on should not be neglected, we would strongly urge the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee to not restrict itself to similarly narrow terms of reference.

  Will the Committee be appointing an academic expert adviser as they have done on previous studies and, if so, would you welcome suggestions for people to approach?

  If we can be of any further assistance to the Committee in its work, I am sure that you will inform us accordingly.

28 March 2000


  CAJ commentary to the Progress Review of the work of the Parades Commission (November 1999)

  Commentary on the Patten report (November 1999)

  Public Order Policing, 1998

  CAJ submission to Patten (August 1998)

  Plastic Bullets briefing paper (June 1998)

  Response to Guidelines, Code of Practice and Procedural Rules issued by Parades Commission (February 1998)

  Human Rights on Duty (December 1997)—includes international experiences on the issue of public order policing and decision making

  Comments on Public Processions (Northern Ireland) Bill, November 1997

  Policing the Police, November 1997. Report and video

  Commentary on 1996 Primary Inspection report by HMIC (March 1997)

  The Misrule of Law, October 1996

  Submission to the North review into parades and marches (October 1996)


  CAJ assumes that most of the following groups and individuals have been informed of the Committee's review, but this may be a useful starting point to ensure that none of the really active groups in the field have been inadvertently overlooked:


  The Orange Order, the Royal Black Institution, the Apprentice Boys of Derry, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, and the Irish National Foresters all will have an interest. However, in some cases, it might be advisable to contact local affiliates and members directly to ensure the most comprehensive picture possible.


  There are of course a wide range of residents groups, some of them well established, others much less so. The Parades Commission would presumably have one of the most extensive lists of local groups available.


  This would obviously include the RUC, the Police Authority, the Independent Commission for Police Complaints, and the Parades Commission. It is unclear to us to what extent the Authorised Officers are to be considered synonymous with the Commission itself, but it would seem valuable to canvass the views of past and current members of the Commission, past and current staff members of the Commission, and the Authorised Officers, since all of these people are likely to have different experiences worth reflecting upon.


  Most political parties will have a perspective to bring to bear on this issue and, as local councillors and political representatives of the individuals involved, would again have interesting insights to bring to bear.


  Some key anthropological and social science study has been undertaken into the issue by academics such as Neil Jarman and Dominic Bryan. INCORE at the University of Ulster at Magee College have organised a series of interesting conferences and seminars into the theme. Tom Hadden and Anne Donnelly have written in the area and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission was drawn directly into the issue when consulted about the application of the Human Rights Act. Groups like CAJ, Pat Finucane Centre, the Table Campaign, the Meath Peace Group, Drumcree Faith and Justice Group, Peace and Reconciliation Group in Derry and Mediation Network all have important insights to bring to bear. Internationally respected human rights groups such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Lawyers Committee on Human Rights have sent observers and commented on the situation. On occasion, individual churchmen and women have played an important role, but details of such individuals can often only be provided via local contacts on the ground. Various US politicians and NGOs have met with the different parties to the dispute and may also have useful contributions to make to your deliberations.

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