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Give NI residents a referendum on divisive parades

Published 07/04/2016

In recent times, we have witnessed a referendum in Scotland on independence and the people of the United Kingdom will vote in a referendum on June 23, 2016 to decide if the UK remains in the European Union.

These votes are based on the idea that major decisions on topics which affect everyday life in these nations should be put before the people, for society to decide how we collectively move forward together.

With this in mind I am calling on the Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers, to offer the people of Northern Ireland a chance to vote on a subject that causes division, is oft times fraught with occasional violence, and undermines efforts to normalise society.

I am, of course, referring to the thousands of parades and marches we must endure annually and the attendant price of policing - that wastes much-needed monies which should be spent on hospitals, education, welfare and housing.

I am asking the Secretary of State to call a referendum and allow the people to decide if parades and marching should be banned for a period of five years. This would be reviewed and another referendum held in five years' time - should the people endorse the call for a ban. It is an opportunity to allow society to heal.

Let the people decide. It's our lives, our children's futures and our fundamental right.

FRANCIS HUGHES

Belfast

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