Ruling to be abided by

It has been announced that the Whiterock parade will abide by the Parades Commission determination and Sinn Fein have been unsucessful in their call for a review. Meanwhile, the Police Ombudsman has criticised the Parades Commission for how they produce their determinations, following problems with ambiguous wording in a determination about a parade in Lurgan. Also the INLA have told Daily Ireland that one of its members organised the attacks on Orange Halls in south Londonderry in recent weeks. The man who has confessed to being a police informer claims he was told to organise the attacks by his handlers (Another one for Nuala perhaps).

Problems with determinations have arisen before. In 2004, confusion reigned around Ballysillan residents using the Crumlin Road after the parade on the evening of the Twelfth of July. The Parades Commission had issued a determination barring the residents but when faced with a resident’s court challenge they admitted in court they had exceeded their powers and could make no ruling on them but then issued a press statement that nothing had changed. At the ABOD parade this Easter on the Crumlin Road, the determination made no mention of supporters. On the morning of the parade the police tried to stop a group of teenage girls walking beside the band and club on the footpath before parade organisers intervened. The PSNI said they had got clarifiaction from the Commission barring supporters but this was legally questionable and neither the PSNI or PC had told the parade organiser this. The Whiterock parade determination is another example. The determination refers to:

“The District Officers of Whiterock District No 9”

No such Whiterock District exists but District No.9 does. Also the determination says:

“Only the District Officers of Whiterock District No 9 and office-bearers and members of Whiterock Temperance LOL 974 up to a total of 50 persons shall process the parade’s notified route in its entirety”.

A strict reading of this means no parade marshals are allowed to be on this section of the route where the residents protest will be held ie one of the places a marshal presence is needed, could be a technical breach.

It also creates potential confusion with flags. One section of the determination expressly forbids flags etc which “…could be seen as associated with any paramilitary organisation.” How can a Unionist be sure what a Republican considers associated with a paramilitary organisation? There has been the occassional objection to the Red hand of Ulster as a paramilitary symbol. Yet another section expressly says 4 flags only can be carried and only 2 displayed on the Springfield Road. The dual reference is unnecessary.