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DUP: We won't get every demand on hung parliament shopping list

By Liam Clarke

Published 18/04/2015

DUP MP Sammy Wilson
DUP MP Sammy Wilson

The DUP has admitted it does not expect to achieve every item on its shopping list for a hung parliament.

Yesterday, the Belfast Telegraph revealed that the party is pushing for the inclusion of a 'right to march' law as one of its demands. We reported that the DUP had promised the Orange Order it would try to achieve this.

The intention is to seek legislation that would make it more difficult for nationalists to halt parades by protesting, as has happened in north Belfast.

The party's Northern Ireland plan commits the party to seeking "legislation for a new way forward on parading which respects the fundamental rights of assembly".

It also states that in Northern Ireland the party would "work to ensure disputes around parades and protests are resolved".

DUP MP Sammy Wilson said: "This point should be taken in the context of being one of 45 points relating to Westminster and 55 points relating to Stormont. The document should be considered in the whole rather than placing one point above another. Of course we want to see parades dealt with maturely and fairly but there are another 99 points setting out our other priorities too."

Much of the document is about the economy. After the Belfast Telegraph article appeared, the Orange Order issued a statement to the BBC's William Crawley.

It said: "The Orange Institution believes that the Public Processions (Northern Ireland) Act 1998 has created a disastrous system of regulating parades. It is a flawed regulatory system which is now contributing to instability in the province.

"As an institution we have formally engaged in four attempts to find a better way of regulating parades but has been unable to agree a replacement system with the broader nationalist community.

"We feel that the system put in place in 1998 is so weighted in favour of those who oppose parades that there is no incentive for the broader nationalist community to negotiate a fairer replacement system."

Reaction to the DUPs latest proposal for a new law in Westminster took up a good deal of BBC Radio Ulster's Talkback yesterday.

One Tyrone Orangeman, he called himself John, rang in to slam the DUP. He claimed the party was making such pledges to get votes and would be unable to deliver. "They'll say 'sorry but we tried'," he said.

This view was echoed by Alex Maskey, the Sinn Fein negotiator.

He and several other callers questioned whether changes in marching law should be a priority when dealing with government.

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