Belfast Telegraph

Reprieve for Parade's Commission

The Parades Commission will be given a new lease of life after the Orange Order's decision to reject new laws, the First Minister has said.

Peter Robinson said he was disappointed that legislation to create a new way of dealing with controversial marches could not proceeded.

Resolving the dispute was a key element of last winter's Hillsborough Agreement, but it has faced opposition from some unionists who fear fresh restraints.

Mr Robinson said: "It is disappointing that this legislation will not now be introduced and the inevitable consequence of this is that the Secretary of State (Owen Paterson) will reappoint the Parades Commission and, regrettably, it will be given a new lease of life. I see no advantage in moving from one system which the Orange Order does not engage with to another which, at the present time, does not have its support."

The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland decided on Saturday not to review its earlier decision to reject the draft parades bill.

The proposals include plans for two new bodies to replace the Government-appointed Parades Commission.

The blueprint envisages a new focus on dialogue between rival groups to avoid violence.

Under a code of conduct, residents will have the right to live free from sectarian harassment while it will be illegal to block a lawful parade.

Mr Robinson said the draft framework remains on the shelf, but he acknowledged: "The reappointment of the Parades Commission will sadden many within the loyal orders as the commission has proved to be part of the problem rather than part of the solution to parades disputes.

"Whilst some chose to oppose this draft legislation for party political reasons, this was always a choice between the Parades Commission and a new improved system which many within the loyal orders recognised as being preferable to the current arrangements."

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