Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Peter Robinson: Parade deal crucial for progress

DUP leader Peter Robinson

Finding an agreed system to handle disputed parades is vital to healing divisions, First Minister Peter Robinson has said.

The DUP leader said progress was being made on preparing legislation on a replacement for the Parades Commission.

He faced criticism from Assembly opponents who claimed the parades working group, made up of DUP and Sinn Fein members, had excluded other parties from its deliberations.

Mr Robinson said soundings had been taken from marchers and residents’ groups — and the legislation being drafted would be put out to public consultation.

He told the Assembly: “If we are wanting to heal our society, and have a shared society in Northern Ireland, then we have to tackle these issues.”

He said the draft bill would go to Executive and be the subject of a public consultation, plus scrutiny by the Assembly committee for the First Ministers’ office.

The SDLP's Dolores Kelly said her party and the UUP were excluded from the process and claimed that while loyal orders were briefed, nationalist residents’ groups had not.

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