Politics: Anger greets Ulster march proposal

The Government wants to avoid a recurrence of highly disruptive annual loyalist parades, such as the Drumcree march. David McKittrick, Ireland Correspondent, outlines both the new legislation announced yesterday and the criticisms which greeted it.

Mo Mowlam, The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, yesterday gave details of the powers which the Government intends to give to a parades commission in an attempt to avert more Drumcree-style clashes next summer.

Under the proposed legislation, the commission will take over from the Royal Ulster Constabulary's responsibility for making decisions on contested parades. It will be able to order re-routings and to impose conditions on marches. It will also encourage "mediation and education" on the parades issue.

Large-scale disruption has been experienced for the last three summer marching seasons in Northern Ireland, centring around the traditional but bitterly-contested Drumcree Orange march through a Catholic district of Portadown, Co Armagh.

There have also been lesser disputes in a number of other areas, typically where loyalist marchers have attempted to go through districts which were once predominantly Protestant but which over the years have become Catholic.

The cumulative effect has by common consent been highly damaging to community relations. This led the last Tory government to commission a detailed report on the marches issue and in its wake to establish the Parades Commission. This body was however given no real powers.

The RUC has for years asked to be relieved of some of its decision-making powers on the grounds that these have placed the force in no-win positions. The commission will take some of the weight off the force, though the legislation will provide police with a reserve power "to take whatever steps are necessary on the day to preserve public order".

The Secretary of State will retain the power to ban parades, either individually or on a blanket basis. This means in effect the responsibility for parades will be split three ways between the Government, the police and the Parades Commission.

Sinn Fein gave the proposals a guarded welcome, but most Unionist and loyalist organisations went on the attack. The Orange Order described the legislation as draconian, claiming it had been heavily influenced by the Irish government. It added: "There is nothing in this legislation for us and we reject totally the thinking that allows our faith, tradition, and culture to be treated with such contempt."

The Rev Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionist Party described the commission as contemptible, claiming: "This is about eroding Protestant culture." The Ulster Unionist Party leader, David Trimble, expressed deep reservations, saying he was sceptical whether the commission could establish any credibility. He added: "Frankly I don't think they are capable of discharging the function they had been given."

The strength of Unionist reaction to the proposed legislation, if it is maintained at this initial level, raised questions over whether marchers will accept the authority of the Commission.

News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
peopleAt the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Associate Recrutiment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence