Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 29 July 2014

SDLP conference: Call for controls on bands accompanying marchers

Alban Maginness

Bands taking part in parades should be regulated with the marchers, the SDLP conference heard.

North Belfast MLA Alban Maginness said that bands accompanying parades had been a persistent cause of aggravation and public disorder.

And he suggested that a legal liability or bonding licensing system should be devised to help solve the ongoing failure "to liberate areas like the greater Ardoyne, which has both Protestants and Catholic residents, from the burden of history".

"Unless the bands are regulated the problem is going to continue to grow and fester," he said.

The conference endorsed a policy paper referring to the Parades Commission as "even more part of the solution – not the problem."

The paper said that the SDLP noted that during the summer Sinn Fein moved away from the description of the commission as "a cheerleader for sectarianism".

Former minister Alex Attwood said the SDLP support for the commission had been vindicated with Sinn Fein shifting from condemnation to praise of the body – one of the key issues at the centre of the negotiations headed by former US envoy Richard Haass.

Delegates also endorsed a motion condemning the words and actions of unionist and republican politicians "pandering to mob instincts" over flags and parades.

Members also called on those involved in the killing and burials of the Disappeared to cease their "shallow denials and face up to their actions".

An emergency motion from the SDLP's Association of Councillors condemning the "despicable" murders and secret burials was passed after last week's BBCNI programme on the issue.

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