Note by the Clerk of the Committee
CORRESPONDENCE WITH GRAND LODGE CONCERNING
ALLEGED DISCLOSURES OF INFORMATION BY THE PARADES COMMISSION
When witnesses representing the Grand Orange
Lodge of Ireland gave oral evidence on 15 November 2000, it was
claimed, at Q123, that Grand Lodge had evidence that "in
1998-99" information on a Form 11/1 had been disclosed by
the Parades Commission to "IRA activists in Portadown"
and that "as a result, members of the Institution in Portadown
were put under threat and had to move from the house because they
were identified". In written evidence submitted on 27 February
2001, the Parades Commission commented that it had "no knowledge
of the incident referred to". In the light of this comment,
I wrote on 7 March, on behalf of the Committee, to the Executive
Officer of Grand Lodge, seeking further information about the
assertions made in that answer, with a view to clarifying the
position before the Committee reported to the House. He replied
on 8 March, informing me that the witness who made the allegation
was currently abroad, but that he would relay the request to him
on his return the following week.
No further information was received before the
Committee agreed its Report on 28 March. It therefore recorded,
at paragraph 85, that the information was still awaited. I wrote
again to Grand Lodge on 24 April, inquiring when I could expect
to receive the further details requested in my letter of 7 March.
In his response of 27 April, the Executive Officer stated that
the witness had contacted Portadown District L O L on his return.
The District had confirmed that the incident took place, but documentary
confirmation, including the specific date, was still awaited.
That remains the position.
From a further exchange of correspondence with
the Executive Officer, it appears that, two years ago, a press
article written by a representative of the Garvaghy Road Residents
Coalition included personal information relating to persons involved
in a parade in Portadown. From the nature of the information,
and the identity of the author, the inference was apparently drawn
by some that he had obtained this information from an official
of the Parades Commission who in turn had access to the Form 11/1
relating to this parade. I have not received any information about
which paper carried the article in question, nor have I been sent
a copy, but it appears that this article may have been the underlying
basis for the assertion made by the Grand Lodge witness.
The layout and content of Form 11/1 is prescribed
by the Public Order (Prescribed Forms) Regulations 2000. The personal
information it requires is the name, home address and telephone
numbers of the person organising the parade, the names of the
parade marshals and stewards, and, in respect of each accompanying
band, besides its name and town of origin, the name and address
of the person in charge of the band. The Parades Commission has
confirmed that, to the extent that an Authorised Officer needs
access to any of these personal details to discharge his or her
duties, and only to that extent, these are passed to them, but
they do not receive a copy of the completed Form 11/1.
9 May 2001