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


Memorandum submitted by the Presbyterian Church in Ireland

  Thank you for your letter to last year's Moderator Dr. Lockington of 13 October and 29 November. Unfortunately your letters reached me after the stated meetings of the Church and Government Committee, including your last one which, due to a Royal Mail strike in Belfast, came to me a few hours after yesterday's meeting finished. Nevertheless we discussed your letter of 13 October, even though we believed we had missed your second deadline of 15 November.

  We recognise that the Commission has had to deal with extremely complex and emotionally charged issues with political overtones woven into them. As a Committee we have not sought to evaluate the operation of the Commission or make judgements about its determinations, since we are not party to all the facts which lead to particular decisions being taken. Without us researching the issues and conducting a widespread enquiry we would not be in a position to give you the kind of detailed response to the question which you seek.

  The Church and Government Committee, the General Board and the General Assembly have been supportive of the work of the Parades Commission, having initially supported it being established and we have paid tribute to the people who have been prepared to serve on it. It has been the position of the church that people ought to co-operate with the Commission, seek local accommodation, and where that has not been possible to achieve, they should obey the decisions of the Commission.

  We have commended people who reached local accommodations and those who have obeyed the determinations and have been critical of those who have not been prepared to obey them. I will append some of the statements which have been issued recently which will give you some idea of how we have approached these issues.

  One matter in the legislation, which might be looked at, is the level of seniority of the police officer required to receive the 11/1. I am told that in small local stations it may not always be possible to find a sergeant or someone above that rank.

  The General Assembly is the governing body of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. The General Board meets between meetings of the General Assembly and the Church and Government Committee reports to both.

7 December 2000

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