OFMDFM abandon Draft Public Assemblies Bill?

The BBC report follows the lead given by the Northern Ireland First Minister, the DUP’s Peter Robinson, in blaming the Orange Order’s rejection of the proposals for the withdrawal of the draft Bill on Public Assemblies, Parades and Protests.

But abandoning that Bill conveniently avoids the First and deputy First Ministers having to fulfill their commitment to deliver in legislation the agreed outcomes of that working group – and their special advisers…

The legislation they proposed was, after all, “built on ignorance of the law, plain stupidity, arrogance, and worst of all, political expediency.”

And the draft Bill’s many critics have been lining up to point that out.

Abandoning the draft Bill means, of course, that we’ll not get to see those wonderful amendments they promised…

And as NI Secretary of State, Owen Paterson, has said, “It is absolutely not an option to leave a [Parades Commission] hole.”

But where does that leave the Hillsborough Agreement?  After all, that new legislation was “part of the outworking of the Hillsborough Agreement…”

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  • joeCanuck

    It’s a toss up whether to laugh or cry.
    Nevertheless, it’s too sensible by half; what’s the catch?

  • slug

    DUP cock up.

  • Pippakin

    Sounds like the problem has gone away for another ten months.

  • slug

    Isn’t this a big DUP cock up? Wasn’t a concession on parades part of the “price” their neogiators were supposed to have extracted in the policing arrangements that were so urgently needed (to distract from Iris Robinson)?

  • joeCanuck

    Yes and yes and yes. But the primary aim of any party in government is to stay in their privileged position after the next election. Will such a cock up affect their polling numbers next year?

  • Damian O’Loan

    This is the most honest response to the output of the Working Group, who alongside those who devised the process, should be the focus of responsibility for what must have been an expensive failure. No doubt we’ll find out exactly how expensive. It’s fair to see this as a failure of a particular method of the axis, where closing oneself off from informed opinion results in poor governance.

    Also notable is the admission today that OFMDFM has done nothing except have a few conversations regarding a Sexual Orientation strategy, having cut funding from the sector. Robinson delegated his Junior Minister to inform the Assembly that it would be 2012 – six years – before anything will be done, i.e. not in this parliament. You wonder what exactly these four ministers are producing, as opposed to visiting.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I thought it was a terrible piece of legislation, but at the same time there’s not a lot to dispute in terms of Robinson’s reasoning for abandoning it – there is no point in reforming parades legislation if the people who object the mostly loudly to the status quo have already signalled they will not support it.

    It really is a case of the Orange Order refusing to accept the reality that their right to march whereever they like has been curtailed and that it is not likely to return.

  • Is there anybody out there who can send a copy of the draft Bill to Slugger or Wikileaks. And if you paid for its drafting, why are you denied its reading?

    Go on, do something positive, someone/anyone.

    New Age Leaders in Stormont? Oh please, don’t make me laugh.

  • joeCanuck

    The BBC article below from April is not a copy of the draft but gives many details.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/northern_ireland/8632446.stm

  • Strangely the consultation paper was a copy of the Bill and bits and requesting comments on that. So read the consultation paper. There was a sort of note on amends ref the response at the end of August beginning of July.

    The biggest question though was hinted in the past week or two which noted that the current Commission is ignored and ‘illegal’ parades go largely unchallenged. So how would the new legislation address similar situations… There are more questions, but that seems a big one that would undermine the entire justice transfer to 2012. At least for the time being the PC and NIO can carry the blame.

  • Framer

    Sexual Orientation Strategy

    Ms D Purvis asked the First Minister and deputy First Minister for an update on their plans to publish a Sexual Orientation Strategy; and to detail the actions taken by their Department following the Sexual Orientation Consultation in 2006.

    (AQW 165/11)

    First Minister and deputy First Minister: The last consultation on a Sexual Orientation Strategy took place in 2006. Around the same time, under direct rule, our department established a short-term fund which helped to build capacity and partnership working across the LGB sector. The administration of the fund was overseen by a Steering Group initially chaired by an OFMDFM official, and latterly by a volunteer from the sector. The group membership consisted of volunteers and people working in the sector, who co-operated to deliver a range of successful outputs.

    In addition, considerable work has been done across government and public bodies to develop, and keep under review, cross-departmental action plans to tackle identified inequalities which LGB and Transgender people face and to tackle issues which impact upon the community such as homophobic crime.

    Through their work to encourage and promote such work across government, our department is aware that many other civil service departments now have well-established communications with key voluntary LGB groups, through which issues can be highlighted and addressed by the relevant authorities in a timely and responsive manner.

    The recent CSI consultation document indicates that Ministers are fully committed to publishing the sexual orientation strategy. In order to help inform work on the forthcoming strategy, our department will seek to establish and build on contacts across the full range of relevant interests. We expect the newly established LGB and Transgender fora to provide useful conduits for key concerns to be raised, and we will seek to work collaboratively across government and with the wider public sector, to develop a Sexual Orientation Equality Strategy.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Suprise, suprise the DUPs get-out-of-Jail-card or rather get- round-the-Police-and-Justice-requirment-card they had to sign up to or face an election has rounded on them and bitten them on the arse.

    This DUP-debacle offers the newly elected Tommo something to sharpen his Orange teeth on and of course Jimbo will hope it will breathe life back into him after his near-death election experience. With Owen supplying the necessaries already on the parades commission Marty will have seriously difficulty keeping his famous smirk under control.

    Jimbo spakes – cracking stuff.
    http://www.tuv.org.uk/press-releases/view/753/it-is-dup-not-orange-or-others-who-have-failed-to-deliver-on-parading

    p.s.

    Pete, we can only surmise what your excited response would have been if SF had prodcued such an almighty feck- up?

  • HeinzGuderian

    sf ?? Almighty Feck Up ??

    Education !!!!! 🙁

  • Aquifer

    Yep Pete, this is a big red giant of embarrassment really.

    The Parades Commission fixed the fact of those threatening most mayhem getting their way, replacing it with an occassional well contained and monitored juvenille riot.

    The sectarian cat was in the bag and had not quite stopped screeching and scratching, so the DUP let it out again.

    You should teach them the difference between big balls and balls ups.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    HeinzGuderian,

    Lets accept your point for the moment – there was just a couple of thousand posts criticisng SF on that (fairly predictable of course even though arguably Unionists were blocking progress) and much jibber-jabbering about dysfunctional this and dysfunctional that – I dont think somehow we can look forward to the same reponse on this one which is solely of the DUPs own manufacture and not like Education on a point of principle – but solely to dig themselves out of the big deep hole they had climbed into whilst negotiating the STA.

  • Mike Scott

    The evolution of this legislation and, don’t forget, the accompanying Code of Conduct has been a complete farce.

    Everyone from the PSNI, the Human Righters, the Parades Commission and Eamon McCann knew the first draft of the legislation was a dogs dinner. SF sent John O’Dowd out firstly to explain that it wasn’t a dogs dinner and then to explain why the dogs dinner was to be amended on the back of the howl of protest.

    We will never see the amended version now.

    Remember this is on the back of an expensive and lenghty Paddy Ashdown review which never actually concluded – Ashdown only ever published a draft, we are STILL waiting on the final report!

    Ashdown was over taken by the Hillsborough parades review team (a DUP / SF exclusive club, advised by Spike Murray and Mervyn Gibson) which followed up its initial legislation with a Code of Conduct, which led the Parades Commission to say in its repsonse, (published on it’s website),

    “The most striking aspect of this draft and one that requires
    immediate comment is that it simply does not contain what
    the Parades Commission would regard as a transparent,
    open, accessible, ‘Code of Conduct’. There is no Code of
    Conduct therein setting out a clear list of mandatory and
    prohibited behaviours and stating unambiguously that
    failure to abide by any section therein will constitute a
    criminal offence.”

    So they published a code of conduct which did not contain an, em, code of conduct.

    Jeffrey Donaldson said on the radio this evening that the draft legislation made it illegal, “for the first time” to block a legal parade. Are we to understand that it currently legal to block a parade which has been given permission to proceed?

    The lies, the absolute stupidity and the political ineptitude of all involved in this sorry tale makes for a a very, very frustrating episode in the life of Stormont.

    Political leadership? Ha ha ha.

  • Well, well, the Orange State is gone is it?

    The Loyal Order continues to dictate policy and decides everyones future….

    Not bad for a bunch of bigots who should’ve remained back in 1690! After all, they insist on marching where they’re clearly not welcome year in, year out and the taxpayers pick-up the bills…….

    Yeah, there’s no going back to the Orange State??

  • joeCanuck

    AR,

    Your scepticism is totally understandable and, in the case of the DUP, it does seem as if the tail is truly wagging the dog.

  • iluvni

    what a load of oul bollocks.

  • Pete Baker

    And that’s why the Northern Ireland deputy First Minister has left his non-ministerial watch-dog to bark on this one…

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    The DUP must have known that this legislation could not survive after all how would they have sold the swapping of those on the parades commission with SF at local level as those who determine if a parade would take place to their own supporters or to the Orange order. Looks like excellent tactics by SF to go along with the DUP charade and now sit back as the DUP torpedos it’s own so called, self styled, clever device .

    …and amusingly the DUP have now attempted to blame the Orange Order for not meeting a promise the DUPs itself made – and we were all led to believe that it was SF that the DUP was going to have a fight a day with.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    This is clearly an issue for the boul Turgon to get his TUV-esque teeth into.

  • joeCanuck

    Well, Pete.
    He can hardly smile like the Cheshire cat while his partner in crime goes down in flames. It would be ungracious of him.

  • joeCanuck

    I add my plea to those who want the preview restored.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    This may well be the beginning of the end for Robbo – he is now closley associated with a disastrous and embarassing ploy which has hugely backfired and which will allow the near dead UUP and TUV to align themselves with the Orange Order and against the DUP.

    Deputy Dodsy and Gregory will surely be straining at the leash when Jimbo get fully into gear on this one.

  • Not too bad for a right-wing Party such as the DUP to be tough on public assembly etc…..

    However, PSF have as a diluted left-wing Party clearly been at odds with those on the left and the whole strategy has now backfired….

    The only people who come smelling of roses are the OO, a battle a day me…xxxx

  • Mick Fealty

    CS,

    Pete’s point that whilst the OO won’t accept it, the price struck by the DUP at Hillsborough (ie, that everyone else abide by the rules we bind the OO) should not be scaled up to include the rest of society, is a profoundly illiberal one.

    And the Orange is backed to the hilt by the Trades Unions on this.

  • Cynic

    Turkeys vote for Christmas

  • fin

    Heinz, you pick an excellent example to prove Sammys point, Ruane got a thread on Slugger (was it Pete?) for turning up 20mins late to make a statement to the Assembly, McGimsey didn’t even show up to make his statement and apology to the Assembly dispite the Speaker meeting him twice to arrange, yet no saliva specked thread on Slugger.

    “William Hay told MLAs he had held two meetings with the minister over the matter and insisted there was nothing he could do about Mr McGimpsey’s failure to attend.”

  • karl wallinger

    The evolution of this legislation and, don’t forget, the accompanying Code of Conduct has been a complete farce.

    Everyone from the PSNI, the Human Righters, the Parades Commission and Eamon McCann knew the first draft of the legislation was a dogs dinner. SF sent John O’Dowd out firstly to explain that it wasn’t a dogs dinner and then to explain why the dogs dinner was to be amended on the back of the howl of protest.

    We will never see the amended version now.

    Remember this is on the back of an expensive and lenghty Paddy Ashdown review which never actually concluded – Ashdown only ever published a draft, we are STILL waiting on the final report!

    Ashdown was over taken by the Hillsborough parades review team (a DUP / SF exclusive club, advised by Spike Murray and Mervyn Gibson) which followed up its initial legislation with a Code of Conduct, which led the Parades Commission to say in its repsonse, (published on it’s website),

    “The most striking aspect of this draft and one that requires
    immediate comment is that it simply does not contain what
    the Parades Commission would regard as a transparent,
    open, accessible, ‘Code of Conduct’. There is no Code of
    Conduct therein setting out a clear list of mandatory and
    prohibited behaviours and stating unambiguously that
    failure to abide by any section therein will constitute a
    criminal offence.”

    So they published a code of conduct which did not contain an, em, code of conduct.

    Jeffrey Donaldson said on the radio this evening that the draft legislation made it illegal, “for the first time” to block a legal parade. Are we to understand that it currently legal to block a parade which has been given permission to proceed?

    The lies, the absolute stupidity and the political ineptitude of all involved in this sorry tale makes for a a very, very frustrating episode in the life of Stormont.

    Political leadership? Ha ha ha.

  • fin

    Got to agree with Sammys earlier comment regarding Pete’s tardiness in reporting on this, afterall this is the same Pete who made much of SF’s ‘imagined’ timelines and deadlines on P&J. But on parading very real timelines exist (which Pete blogged on back in Feb) these timelines came with a committment from the FM and dFM to support the passage of the Parades Bill, can Pete honestly say the FM is sticking to the Agreement, Nope.

    From Pete’s blog

    ” 6. The First Minister and deputy First Minister will promote and support the agreed outcomes of the working group. [added emphasis]

    And

    9. The First Minister and deputy First Minister will support all necessary steps in the Assembly to ensure that the Bill completes all stages before the end of 2010. In parallel the First Minister and deputy First Minister will take the necessary steps to enable the reclassification of parades as a transferred matter. [added emphasis]”

    So, what of the ‘Snowman’ the secret unopened letters, and what about Robbo’s ‘special device’

    Or Gregory’s statement “…said his party had a “twin track strategy”, connecting devolution of policing and justice to progress on parades….”

    With a new leader in place at the UUP and the TUV threat lessened is it time for Robbo to retire to his office with a carton of Orange juice and a revolver

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    fin,

    Yes, the DUP would probably be wise to ‘accept’ Robbo’s resignation before the Assembly elections.

    As once Jimbo warms up on this one there will be red-white-and-blue-and-particulalry-Orange flying all over the shop. For entertainment the BBC could do far worse than let Jimbo into a TV studio with whoever from the DUP is brave enough to face him in front of the cameras.

    Latest offering from the quarefellah

    http://www.tuv.org.uk/press-releases/view/754/time-for-robinson-to-use-the-

  • maeglin

    What did the orange order actually want? Did they not have their own person on there insuring all they had asked for? It is also clear that they did not specify in response to the consultation why and what they were unhappy about. How is this a bloody nose for the DUP. A new and improved framework was produced and yet it was rejected by those in the Orange Order who didn’t want to take any responsibility for taking a decision.

    They were never going to get a guarantee on all marches. There was always going to have to be a process. The main objection appears to be the process of mediation – which wasn’t even mandatory in the draft Bill!

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    maeglin

    Firstly they promised something they havent delivered.

    Secondly they have managed to misalign themselves with the orange order and handed a gift to the UUP and the TUV who will simply point to their inability to negotiate with SF to get something acceptable to the OO and other unionists.

    Thirdly, they have portrayed the parades bill as the quid pro quo for SF getting the transfer of police and have jackshit.

    Fourthly, this suits SF just fine – and given the rhetoric from the DUP that translates into a bloody nose when Jimbo Allister get his big mits on it.

    Fifthly, Robbo had to drag his party through the assembly to get them to back him on the transfer of Police and must surely have been damaged badly – especially in the eyes of the headbangers who were resisting said dragging.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Such a shame Brian wasnt around to meet Boris for his Shannon stopever. One not able to go up the steps to the plane and the other not able to come down them.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    above meant for other thread

  • fin

    I presume, if the Parades thingy is to be dropped it means both the DUP and SF need to agree to it, as there is no PR on the OFMDFM website I’m guessing Robbo is flying solo at the moment and MMcG doesn’t appear to have commented.

    Sooooo, what will SF ask for in return for dropping it, even if Robbo resigns as Leader of the DUP and/or FM the issue is still there. Beginning to look like a strong possiblity of double bubble for SF, P&J for accepting it and something else for dropping it.

    Unless….the SDLP who were against it (and pretty much everything else) tries to wade in and use it to score points at SF’s expense, however, that once again leaves them siding with unionism and this time with the OO as well.

    So at this moment in time, the UUP want to roll back St Andrews, the DUP want to roll back Hillsborough, leaving them with the GFA.

    Coupled with the absense of both unionist leaders from Westminister, what now for unionism, no leaders in the Commons and unable to keep agreements that are repeatedly claimed as a victory for unionism.

    I think the ‘garden centre unionist’ has just been joined by the ‘head in the gas oven unionist’

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    fin,

    In spite of what SF may say I dont think they will be at all annoyed if the Parades commssion stays – after all it was the DUP who gave birth to this still born plan in the first place as face saver for jumping with SF over the transfer of Police.

    I think it might be pushing it to expect the DUP to have to pay up for their own failure. Marty should when he’s at a safe distance from Robbo ask him if they should put out a joint statement condemning the Orange Order.

    Failing that Marty can still produce a few corkers anyway such as “we like the DUP are very disapponinted that the Orange Order have failed to meeet their responsibilites”.

    As Jimbo sharpens his big Orange knife (and perhaps the newly elected Tommo wakens up) expect ar least one DUP chappie to break ranks.

  • Neil

    SF will be happy with the Parades Commission I reckon. This is the DUP’s baby, the only problem for SF is explaining how this wasn’t wasted money, but again that’s the DUP’s problem, they wanted it in the first place. The PC works fine as is.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Neil,

    “SF is explaining how this wasn’t wasted money”

    All SF have to say is that they acted in good faith and that they agree with the DUP that it is all the Orange Order’s fault as they pulled the plug – any waste therefore is down to the boys in the bowler hats.

    This might even be a moment for Trimble to give Robbo some much unneeded advice about his next move.

  • joeCanuck

    OO smelling of roses? Hardly.
    Robinson is simply using their opposition as a figurative fig leaf after being shown to have no clothes.
    How many other embarrassments can he suffer before he realizes that he needs to join the retired bunch along with his good wife? He’d get a seat with his old master in that other place, if he needs the occasional politics fix.

  • joeCanuck

    Would have a more appropriate heading been OFMDFM abandon DAFT Public Assemblies bill?

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    JC,

    Yes that sounds like a good title also somewhat more terse than ‘Not quite so clever device Public Assemblies Bill’ or the ‘Designed to get us out of a tight corner but now it has landed us in the shit Public Assemblies bill’.

  • fin

    Sammy etal, no arguement that SF are happy with the current Parades Commission, however, the new arrangements are seen as 100% DUP driven, the majority of parades are OO, hence, I’d presume that SF will extract a price. Bear in mind Pete’s and the DUP sluggerites behaviour prior to P&J, from memory, it was there was nothing in the agreement, SF are wrong, what price will the DUP extract, oh and SF are rubbish at bartering, having tripped the DUP up several times, I’m sure SF will continue their gentle chipping away at the union, afterall they are the only sizable party in NI whose leader is actually an MP, shame he won’t take his seat *ahem*

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    fin,

    All the DUP have to do is vote against it if SF manage to get it on to the floor of the assembly so I dont thin kthey will do anything as they have no leverage – other than sit back and enjoy the show – whilst making a few well timed statements about how they and the DUP were let down by the OO.

  • fin

    Sammy, its not like you not to read Pete’s links in total, to refresh your memory the agreement says

    “The First Minister and deputy First Minister will promote and support the agreed outcomes of the working group. [added emphasis]

    And
    The First Minister and deputy First Minister will support all necessary steps in the Assembly to ensure that the Bill completes all stages before the end of 2010. In parallel the First Minister and deputy First Minister will take the necessary steps to enable the reclassification of parades as a transferred matter. [added emphasis]”

    Robbo, is in default of Hillsborough if he doesn’t support the Bill in the Assembly

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    fin,

    re. “Sammy, its not like you not to read Pete’s links in total”

    I take exception to thse uncalled for an hurtful remarks…

    But facts is facts and you do appear to have them on your side. Not sure if there is clause somewhere else which says ‘necessary consensus must be reached’ . If there is anything for SF to gain on this we will surely hear fairly soon from them – that is when they have stopped giggling.

  • fin

    Sammy there are rules on Slugger and wading thro Pete’s links is one of them, I find quite a Catholic thing.

    What interests me is that the Agreement calls on the FM and dFM to support its passage and not their respective parties.

    Legal obligations leave Robbo either resigning as FM (although his successor than needs to agree), having a public spat with them, getting them to agree, or doing a deal with SF to change the necessary bits to gain approval.

    So basically the DUP is in the wotsit, secret letters are now worthless as who will take the job of FM or dFM within the DUP. Public arguements are also bad for business. Its left to cutting a deal with SF or else the OO needs to change its mind. If the OO steps aside, I’d guess all those years of DUP inflitration will be wasted, but on the plus side having largely burnt their political bridges with the UUP the OO grip on unionist politics is either loosened or open to a mad scramble by everyone to be friends with the OO – which is not a bad thing as the unionists will end up trading things that SF want in return for some coloured beads for the OO

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    fin,

    If it came to the chamber Robbo could vote in favour knowing that it would fall anyway as many in his party would probably abstain or vote no and Tommo-the Orangeman would have his orange troops all lined up to vote no as well.

    SF for whatever reason dont appear ot pressing hard for a vote – though I did hear a bit of talk yesterday – but even that seems to have died out.