Belfast Telegraph

Friday 31 October 2014

Parades Bill amendments put forward

Several key amendments have been proposed to the draft Parades Bill due to be introduced next month

Several key amendments have been proposed to the draft Parades Bill due to be introduced to the Northern Ireland Assembly next month, it has been revealed.

The main change will be the removal of all public meetings from the remit of the legislation, according to First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

Full details of the amendments which followed a consultation process are due to be announced later - just 48 hours before a major security operation is mounted in north Belfast where members of the loyalist Apprentice Boys are due to parade close to the republican Ardoyne.

There was serious trouble in the area in the immediate aftermath of Orange Order marches last month when dissident republicans opposed to the peace process clashed with police. More protest demonstrations are planned for this Saturday.

Mr Robinson said: "The public consultation process indicated concern that open-air and other similar public meetings would be captured by the legislation. This was not the intention and this amendment will absolutely clarify this.

"Furthermore, we intend to address any confusion about the references to human rights in the legislation to make clear that these references indicate a framework based on the European Convention of Human Rights."

Mr McGuinness said: "This process brings a new beginning to dealing with parades based on mutual respect and the rights of citizens to be free from all forms of harassment.

"The new legislation will be fully consistent with international human rights standards. The Bill will now be limited in application to parades and related protest meetings."

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