Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

'Time for parades body to go'

MP says axe Commission after chief calls for political support

Just days after the head of the Parades Commission called for more political support, a Northern Ireland MP has said it should be scrapped, claiming the body “has run its course” and accused it of being “an obstacle to progress”.

However, DUP MP Ian Paisley Jnr has no solid alternative to the body other than calling for powers to be devolved to “local parties”.

On Tuesday, the chairman of the commission, Peter Osborne, said he felt it didn’t get the credit it deserves.

On the back of fierce criticism from unionists after determinations made on Rasharkin, Crumlin and Ardoyne, Mr Osborne jumped to the defence of the commission, saying he believes its role has greatly improved tensions surrounding parading here.

Politicians have a key role to play in quelling that tension, he said, and warned against perceived inflammatory language in the run-up to contentious parades.

“Public comments that are made and carried in the media can’t be taken back and they inflame situations and there is an onus in not doing that,” he said.

Yesterday, Ian Paisley Jnr and Nigel Dodds rounded on the commission, accusing it of being “unfit for purpose”.

“The Parades Commission has

become an obstacle for progress, not the way to progress,” said Mr Paisley.

“It has run its course. I think it’s tired and it now needs to recognise it needs to move out of the way for a new dispensation.”

Party colleague Nigel Dodds said: “This Saturday the Parades Commission has once again increased restrictions on the loyal orders by putting restrictions on the parade by Ligoniel RBP 210 down the Crumlin Road,” he said.

“This is a small dignified parade and yet their band has been excluded from a section of the route.

“The commission is also insisting that bands accompanying Royal Black Preceptories on parade in Belfast cannot play music along a stretch of the main route into the city centre, along Clifton Street and Donegall Street.

“This is due to a nationalist residents group wishing to protest outside a Roman Catholic chapel.”

First Minister Peter Robinson recently claimed Ulster Unionists were responsible for rejecting a proposed deal on parading in 2010 and said he did not share their “faith” in the commission.

The Orange Order rejected the new system for overseeing parades set up by a Stormont working group under the Hillsborough Agreement.

The future of the commission is to be debated by Mr Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness next month.

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