Canon Ian Ellis hails Gazette feedback on flags and parades
Church of Ireland Gazette editor, Canon Ian Ellis has welcomed the encouraging responses to a recent editorial in the magazine which called for a voluntary parades panel to regulate marching in Northern Ireland.
Canon Ellis said: "I have had very favourable responses to the Gazette editorial's comments on the three issues of parades, flags and the past in Northern Ireland.
"Clearly, Dr Haass faces a huge challenge if he is to conclude his work by the end of this year, as planned, but I do have the impression that he and his Vice-Chair, Prof. Meghan O'Sullivan, are listening very carefully to all perspectives and proposals and are also thinking very deeply on the subject," he added.
Canon Ellis said the two US facilitators "are clearly prepared to think outside the box," and stressed the Gazette was trying to make "an honest and helpful contribution to the whole process."
Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster's Sunday Sequence programme recently, Canon Ellis expanded on the Gazette's editorial comment by saying he envisaged a voluntary parades body as being cross-community in nature and being composed, not of politicians, but of representatives of the loyal orders and bands and as providing "self- regulation".
The proposed Parades Panel, he said, would provide people involved in the parading culture with an opportunity to “show leadership and responsibility for the common good”.
If the Panel failed to agree on particular parades, the decision would pass to the Parades Commission which would continue to exist to deal with unresolved cases.
Canon Ellis also suggested local authority regulation of the flying of flags such as on lamp posts. The Gazette described the current widespread practice as "tacky and shabby in the extreme" and as not showing respect to the flags themselves.
Canon Ellis said that there was too great an emphasis "in the public discourse" on issues relating to the Troubles past, and suggested there was a need to focus more clearly on the future for coming generations.
However, he stressed that those who were suffering from the legacy of the Troubles needed "every attention and care".
Belfast Telegraph Digital