Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Deja vu as Orange 'family' thumb nose at law

I REFER to recent remarks made by Orange Order secretary Drew Nelson (about the Parades Commission protests) that "the unionist and loyalist family's reaction will continue well after the parading season has finished and will spread into the sphere of politics and governance" (Online, July 6). I feel a sense of deja vu.

In 1986 I was one of four High Court applicants, led by former Lord Mayor David Cook, who were granted High Court injunctions preventing unionists on Belfast City Council from continuing to act unlawfully.

At that time the "unionist and loyalist family" had seen that its anger over the Anglo-Irish Agreement "spread into the sphere of politics and governance"; their councillors had been adjourning meetings with the intention of ensuring council work could not be passed. Today's Orange Order threat is similar.

Protests are fine as long as they are within the law. However, if these protests extend to interfering with the conduct of lawful business of democratic local decision-making, this may result in similar consequences to 1986.

The Parades Commission issues determinations that have the force of law. Any attempt to protest against these must similarly remain within the law.

If there are voices of caution in the "unionist and loyalist family", those have not been evident. I hope that care will be taken not to bring with this "reaction" unintended legal consequences.

CLLR TOM CAMPBELL (ALLIANCE)

Antrim and Newtownabbey Council

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