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


Supplementary Memorandum submitted by the Parades Commission

  The Chairman has asked me to write to the Committee in advance of this meeting [28 February 2001] to bring to its attention a number of errors or inaccuracies in some of the evidence presented by other parties.

  In challenging inaccuracy, the Commission does not want to create the impression that its permanent existence is an ideal situation. The Commission recognises that its role is an interim one, and its efforts are aimed at pressing towards a time when such a commission is no longer required by Northern Ireland society.

  One way in which the Commission does this is by setting the parameters of acceptable behaviour, pointing to what is required for the basis of non-violent co-existence, involving shared values and respect. Part of this depends on each side's willingness to engage in dialogue.

  The Commission should perhaps be more forceful in pointing to its successes. The heat of the situation is often a better index that the actual numbers of contentious parades and the general reduction in tension around parading is noteworthy. Examples that could be identified include Ballycastle, Crumlin and Downpatrick. There is reduced tension in Rosslea, Newtownbutler and Pomeroy. Londonderry has seen an engagement. While the present Commission does not take credit for that, it part-funded the process of dialogue.

  The Commission also recognises that this is a part of the working out of its rights-based approach. This is emphatically not a "public order" Commission. This comes strongly out of the North Report, which gave birth to the Commission and is underlined in the Commission's guidelines.

  Public order is one criterion considered by the Commission, but it must be put in context. A study carried out by Michael Hamilton, who addressed the Committee, indicates that in its decisions, the Commission has argued more on the basis of community relations than on public order.

  I have detailed the errors we have identified in Appendix A. Please also find attached various appendices[229], marked A1 to A9 which illustrate points made in the accompanying text. At Appendix B, please find the Commission's response to the Royal Ulster Constabulary review. Appendix C is a copy of a letter forwarded by Mr Brian Currin to the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland. Appendix D is a copy of Lord Justice Carswell's decision on a judicial review application in respect of a determination by the Parades Commission in Dunloy.

  On a somewhat lighter note, I might add that the Chairman, in response to comments from Mr Saulters that he is based in Plymouth, has calculated that he spends approximately 15 per cent of his time in Plymouth, 23 per cent in Northern Ireland and 62 per cent in London. His salary is not £70,000 per annum but £50,000. On taking up his appointment he resigned from a contract which had three years to run and which was worth approximately three times that figure on an annual basis.

27 February 2001

229   Evidence not reported. Back

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