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.

Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer Trustee opportunities now available at The Society for Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Volunteer your expertise as Tr...

Early Years Educator

£68 - £73 per day + Competitive rates of pay based on experience: Randstad Edu...

Nursery Nurse

£69 - £73 per day + Competitive London rates of pay: Randstad Education Group:...

Primary KS1 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam