Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Telegraph poll message is clear: right to march should be regulated

BY LIAM CLARKE, POLITICAL EDITOR

The stand-out finding of this section of the questionnaire is that there is strong support for regulation on the right to parade.

People also support restrictions in line with local feeling in areas where they take place.

Respondents could choose from four propositions, two of which supported the right to parade without restriction.

The first proposition was that: "Parades Commission determinations can be ignored, irrespective of the law." Only 6.1% chose this.

Another proposal called for a change in the law rather than advocating that parades could proceed despite legal restrictions.

It stated that: "The law should guarantee the right to parade irrespective of objections." This matched the opinion of 12.9%.

Putting the two together, these strongly pro-parading options were supported by just under one in five of the population (19%).

If the 23.5% of the population who expressed no opinion were left out of the figures, then the proportion supporting a more or less untrammelled right to parade rose to one in four (25%).

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When Protestants alone were considered, support for the two pro-parading propositions rose 37%, an opinion shared by only 7.5% of Catholics and just under a third of people who did not call themselves Protestant or Catholic.

A large majority, 75% of those who actually expressed an opinion, took the view that "Parades Commission determinations should be obeyed" (34.3%), or that "the law should guarantee the right to parade irrespective of objections" (16.9%).

These percentages fell to 6.1% and 12.9% when the 23.5% of 'don't knows' were included. When it came to social class, only 8% of the AB socio-economic groups, generally professionals and managerial or business people, believed: "The law should guarantee the right to parade irrespective of objections", but this rose to 18.1% among the bottom DE socio-economic groups, largely made up of the low paid and benefits claimants.

Men took a tougher pro-parading stance than women, with 9.4% of males supporting breaking the law on the issue compared to 3% of females. And 16.5% of men wanted the law changed to remove parading restrictions, but only 9.5% of women agreed.

More than a third of women (33.7%) believed "parades should only take place where there is local agreement". A further 29.1% believed Parades Commission determinations should be obeyed.

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