Woodward plans to hand parading disputes to local councils…

Has Peter Robinson ambushed Sinn Fein on parading? Shaun Woodward sent two confidential letters to the Executive review committee on policing and justice more or less telling them the government is planning to buy into Paddy Ashdown’s plans to stand down the Parades’ Commission. This critical matter may now end up in the hands of local councils which, we are told, will facilitate dialogue with the Orders and local people.

In the event of failure it is proposed the First and deputy first ministers will appoint a panel. Where is all this leading ? More chaos? What about the role of the police ? Is that service now expected to be pushed back into the firing line? Next question? Is Mr. Robinson and his colleagues gearing up to ‘gut’ or ‘hollow out’ the cross border bodies which are looking increasingly limp and meaningless?

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  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    re.”In the event of failure it is proposed the First and deputy first ministers will appoint a panel”

    This announcement can be spun a number of ways e.g. SF via a Stormo panel will be in jointly in charge of contentious parades.

  • South Armagh Man

    what exactly have Sinn Fein produced for the Nationalist people since going into Stormont? it would appear that only aspect of stormont that they are really familiar with is the expense claims forms.

  • Brian Walker

    Hi Eamonn! I’m so remote from this now. Are you saying Ashdown’s was unintentionally a pro- unionist plan and has no merits of its own? And isn’t it a bit of a leap from that to the cross border bodies? However I agree it sounds wrong to leave it to councils if that’s what’s intended. Lot’s of room there for glaring inconsistencies and stirring up mischief. Better, I thought, to leave it to a body headed by an import who knows nothing but tries to be fair minded…

  • exile

    [i]This announcement can be spun a number of ways e.g. SF via a Stormo panel will be in jointly in charge of contentious parades. [/i]

    Please Sammy, stop it. You’re making a complete jackass of yourself yet again.

  • Pete Baker

    Some quotes from the BBC report

    “To leave these issues unresolved and to devolve powers of policing and justice would plant a seed at the heart of government in Northern Ireland which I believe would be corrosive and divisive and which ultimately could in fact be the straw that breaks the camel’s back,” [Peter Robinson] said.

    Mr Robinson said he strongly supported the work of former Liberal Democrat leader Lord Ashdown, who is heading a review into parading in Northern Ireland, but he questioned the delay in the final report.

    The DUP leader said the delay was not the fault of Lord Ashdown but was down to Sinn Fein seeking “to extract a political price to deliver that which has already been agreed”.

    And the quote from Sinn Féin’s John O’Dowd doesn’t necessarily disagree with that.

    [John O’Dowd] “The Ashdown report talks about the transfer of parading issues and decision making powers to local politicians, what we were saying is that if there is gong to be a transfer of parading issues then you have to transfer all responsibilities.”

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    In the event of a contentionus parade, the council, including SF members in many cases will facilitate dialogue between the marchers and local people(again accroding to Unionists a SF front) and if not agreed it will be passed on to Stormo where a panel which will presumably contain an equal number of Unionists and Nationalists (including SF) plus an Alliance party member to act in the event of a dispute – which of course there will always be.

    So hopefully we will soon have an Alliance justice minister and an Alliance Stormo member deciding most controversial decisions.

    Seems fair enough.

  • fin

    If nationalists want P&J transferred why wouldn’t they want the Parades body in local hands aswell.

    The DUP and OO may be rubbing their hands with glee but I’m sure the more sensible ones understand the issues, not least that the DUP will be obliged to say no to the OO from time to time.

    Frankly, if someone whinges constantly about how something gets done, the best response is to give the job to them.

  • kensei

    Sammy

    So hopefully we will soon have an Alliance justice minister and an Alliance Stormo member deciding most controversial decisions.

    Seems fair enough.

    Are you high?

  • exile

    [i]Seems fair enough. [/i]

    Where have you been for the past 800 odd years? Seriously lad, now you’re just embarassing yourself.

    May we live in interesting times…

  • It is hard to undertand why you would wish to ‘politcise’ the parading issue after spending a decade trying to take the politics out of it. Many would argue that the Parades Commission has had some considerable success in that regard.

  • Turgon

    Brian Walker,
    “Better, I thought, to leave it to a body headed by an import who knows nothing but tries to be fair minded… “

    An interesting comment from someone who purports to support local power sharing. Then again I suppose you feel Brian that not everyone is as fair minded or honest as the likes of you.

    As to “glaring inconsistencies” considering your position on most things here the irony is pretty overwhelming. I suppose at least you have the defence of “I’m so remote from this now.” Not that that ever stopped you telling lies about me. Oh well just another “glaring inconsistency.”

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Kensei,

    it is fair – whether it is sensible is another matter.

    Are you suggesting it is not fair?

    fin,
    do you agree this should be seen/spun as a DUP victory?

    Turgon,
    Do you not think Jimbo will exploit this issue by suggesting it will be influenced by SF at Council and Stormo level?

  • Turgon

    Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit,

    I have not thought about it in enough depth yet. I will have to go away and construct some spin.

    Regards

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Turgon,

    here’s some spin Jimbo prepared earier on the other topic mentioned in this thread cooperation between the Northern Irish Territories and Southern Irish territories.

    http://www.tuv.org.uk/press-releases/view/370/transition-to-where?

  • Sean

    I agree with Sammy, this appears to be a SF own goal but in a year or two with the unionists and their bulyboys run wild parades will be under SF dual control

    I predict the end to parading in Rasharkin

  • exile

    [i]I predict the end to parading in Rasharkin [/i]

    I predict the end of the Assembly if this stupid plan comes to fruition.

  • fin

    Sammy, it will be until the new local body refuses a march application from the OO. I can’t see Trimble and Ian coming out of retirement to dance a jig on a nationalist street because of it.

    Inside tent pee-ing out, instead of outside tent pee-ing in.

    Parades body = tent

    The DUP rejected the current body, but welcome this idea. The decisions will remain the same but with the DUP onside.

  • Rory Carr

    If those councils who make the decison to allow parades where heavy security is required or where rioting and damage to persons and property ensues are then obliged to meet the costs of such policing and recompense for damage done then we might be on to a winning formula here. It would be based on a old but often untried formula in these matters called, “Taking responsibility for one’s actions”.

    For such a policy to have real impact it would require that any such costs be met, not from savings in cuts to other services, but by an additional levy on rates for which all ratepayers are in clear understanding of the reason. I can appreciate that such a levy might soon be known as the Intolerance Tax and that might be no bad thing.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Rory,

    good point – I understand this is being explored in Strathclyde for contentious parades – both Orange (Blue) and Green.

  • fin

    Rory, the additional revenue would be good, however, people don’t vote for the OO or for rioters, they will have an oppotunity to vote for or against the people responsible for putting them together on the same street, they will also have an opportunity to vote for the people responsible for the policing of marches, that for me is the key, getting the DUP into Stormont was a victory, getting them to take responsibility for these areas is just as important.

    I can see Robinson reaching the same heights of Lundyism accorded to Trimble

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    C’mon Slabbery, you’re not trying anywhere near hard enough: ‘can be spun’! You can spoof better than that. So off you go: tell us more about how the government signing off on the Punt’s number 1, base-tickling goal – getting rid of the Parades Commission – actually represents a Sinn Five triumph. If anyone can lie that, you can.

  • fin

    Of course the question is do the public have confidence in this measure and is all the necessary finance in place.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    fin,

    and of course all 4 parties should have to agree – not sure the UUP will be happy that SF will be involved in appointing the new Parades panel.

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    Nah, you see, in this instance that’s precisely not the question Fin. That’s the question the Punt affects as a ruse to string transfer out as per his timetable, and with a view to it happening in a manner that suits him. Whereas this gem from Woodward is a simple bung from Labour to the DUP. But as I say, doubtless Slabbery will explain how it’s yet another triumph for the flawless brilliance of McMurderous, and how reunification’s about to happen next Thursday. Actually, knowing Slabbery, he’d doubtless tell us that reunification already had happened last Thursday. Still, I shouldn’t anticipate his comic stylings too much. It might put him off his stroke.

  • Laughing (Tory) unionist

    Feeble, feeble stuff Slabbery, I worry you’re poorly. Raise your game: tell us how all this is the inexorable working out of Sinn Five’s infallible masterplan. Mere pish like it being the straightforward granting of yet another of the Punt’s wishlist we can shurely safely discount: you’re no sort of fellow for believing what your lyin’ eyes might be telling you. Sock it to us Slabbery – an open goal lies before you. He shoots! he fibs!

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Oh dear, Robbo better keep his head down for a while – Jimbo’s party have spoken.

    Turgon, quick work there.

    http://www.tuv.org.uk/press-releases/view/371/policing-and-justice-and-parading-link-false

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    Good thing that *you* don’t keep your clown’s hat down. You’re really wasting a vast opportunity here: c’mon, tell us all how unutterably brilliant it is for Sinn Five that one of the Punt’s key demands has just been lobbed to him by Woodward. I’m convinced you’re ill: have you contracted a dose of realworld? Is that why you can’t bring yourself to make the usual mad ould jibber-jabber up with quite your normal gusto? Is there an appeal fund we can contribute to? Would prayer help? If we all prayed for you to be restored to prime spoofing health, would you please, pretty please, come onto Slugger and tell us what an outstanding triumph the DUP getting rid of the Parades Commission represents for our beloved payroll Republicans? This place really won’t be the same without Slabbery’s Laugh-in. Even the repeats, and Gawd knows, there we re enough of them, always left us chortling.

  • KieranJ

    Any Loyalist or Unionist who puts on a derby and joins a silly parade on the 12th or at any other time in the six counties is a fairy. It’s as simple as that.

    Case closed.

  • Laughing (JM Barrie) Unionist

    You should stop believing in them then. Everyone knows that everytime you say fairies don’t exist, another one dies.

  • Peter Fyfe

    On one hand the thought of Ballymena council making decisions about local parades fills me with dread but their allowed to go ahead unhindered anyway so things won’t change. The thought of Ballymena council footing some security costs, if they do allow a parade every other saturday, leaves me quite satisfied that I won’t see Pride of the Maine outside the slemish as often on a saturday evening.

  • kensei

    Sammy

    it is fair – whether it is sensible is another matter.

    Are you suggesting it is not fair?

    The idea that the tiny Alliance controlling the balance of power and giving them a platform to pontificate and grow ever more pompous is somehow a good thing blows my mind.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    kensei,

    blowing of minds aside – is it fair?

    They have a good track record on being non partisan whats the problem in terms of fairness?

    Politically I suspect, as indicated above by the TUV, Robbo is going to have some difficulties even selling this to his own – presumably he has thought this through? But it will be interesting to hear if Wee Reggie tries to find some angle to whack him over the head with it as well.

  • fin

    Does this mean the possibility of DUP politicans approving the annual Gay Pride Parade. Lovely.

    Will they also have to sign off nationalist Parades. Even better.

    Does this mean scenarios wher the OO need to apply to Republican councillors for permission to march.

    Field day for the TUV

  • exile

    [i]Does this mean scenarios wher the OO need to apply to Republican councillors for permission to march.[/i]

    Field day for the perenially under siege residents of Garvaghy Road and Rasharkin.

  • kensei

    Sammy

    They have a good track record on being non partisan whats the problem in terms of fairness?

    No Sammy, it is not fair that a tiny minority should weld disproportionate power. It is the very definiton of “not fair” and “undemocratic”.

    I think you are also confusing “non partisan” for “Unionist lite”. I despair at the thought of teh Assembly turning into a giant Belfast City Council, where Nationalists have to jump through ridiculous hoops to get a St patrick’s Day parade.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    fin,

    “annual Gay Pride Parade” and the OO parades.

    Do you think the Northern Irish territories are ready for some joint parading?

    re. The TUV – Turgon did say “I will have to go away and construct some spin.” and shortly after the TUV website was updated.

    Turgon you are as good as your word.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    kensei,

    re ” think you are also confusing “non partisan” for “Unionist lite”.

    No I’m simply asking you if it is fair – just becasue something is Unionist does not mean it is not fair.

    Are you suggesting the Alliance party has not acted fairly at Belfast City Council or elsewhere? That is a genuine question not a rhetrocial one.

  • joeCanuck

    This has the potential to be a very good idea. It will force co-operation (or blackmail) across councils. Certainly the OO can have a parade in (London)Derry but only if they don’t apply for one down the Garvaghy road.
    The devil as always will be in the details. Who will be the arbiter of whether or not “negotiations have failed? If a local council splits 10 to 9 on a particular parade, does that constitute success or failure?

    Eamonn, for the benefit of those of us far away, could you give us a brief bio. I know Mick allows anonymity for his bloggers but I suspect your name is real.

  • USA

    I have not had time to read the comments, but surely Sinn Fein have long argued for more power to local councils. I would envisage horse trading between parties to get parades cleared for certain areas. That is, no solution in Rasharkin or Ardoyne = no parade in Derry etc.
    This could potentially suit SF.
    From the SF website.
    While new structures are a matter for agreement by the Irish people we believe that local government – that is local councils/authorities and its agencies and administration should provide the maximum distribution of power and decision making to people in their local communities. This would mean a highly decentralised governmental structure for the whole island.
    A potent empowering local democracy has always been at the core of Sinn Féin’s policy. Such structures have been advocated in recent years by Dr. Tom Barrington and Professor Joe Lee as a means for addressing problems such as rural decline, urban planning, environmental protection, local development and job creation.

  • Sammy

    Joint Parades could be the way forward, was that Orangefest or Orangefisting

  • fin

    sorry, that last one was mine and should have started Sammy, …..

    not only but also, it could introduce Tromboning to Loyalist bands.

    Teabagging in the picnic field afterwards.

    the music could come from the Pogues ‘Rum, Sodomy and the Sash’ album

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pink-orange

    It appears to be a kinda salmon colour.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Fin,

    nice imagery, the more you think about it perhaps Robbo should have covered his (political) arse
    a bit better.

  • Ian

    “On one hand the thought of Ballymena council making decisions about local parades fills me with dread but their allowed to go ahead unhindered anyway so things won’t change. The thought of Ballymena council footing some security costs, if they do allow a parade every other saturday, leaves me quite satisfied that I won’t see Pride of the Maine outside the slemish as often on a saturday evening.”

    Presumably, the old 26 councils will be replaced by the more evenly-balanced ‘Supercouncils’ by the time the Parades Commission hands over the reins?

  • joeCanuck

    In conjunction with this proposal, I suggest that “traditional” politico/religious parades be confined to a period of 4 weeks or whatever will cover the main OO and AOH parades.

  • Fabianus

    joeCanuck

    Stout fellow. Four weeks of piss-poor atonal flute “music” is about right for demonstrations of “culture”.

  • Reader

    Conall: It is hard to undertand why you would wish to ‘politcise’ the parading issue after spending a decade trying to take the politics out of it. Many would argue that the Parades Commission has had some considerable success in that regard.
    I strongly agree. The Parades Commission had gone a very long way to training the redeemable and isolating the worst of the yahoos on both sides. There has been both a carrot and a stick to work on good behaviour all round.
    Instead of putting the local councils in charge of parades decisions, it might make more sense to have them work under the oversight of the Parades Commission.

  • Ashdown’s reporting is only at an interim stage. It hasn’t even reached a conclusion. The Interim raised enough issues to question the sense of the proposals. A real threat to community relations and an escalation of conflict would be most likely. http://www.thedissenter.co.uk/2008/10/parade-review-steps-toward-legal-minefield/

  • Comrade Stalin

    No Sammy, it is not fair that a tiny minority should weld disproportionate power. It is the very definiton of “not fair” and “undemocratic”.

    I definitely would not want Alliance to be the sole adjudicator on some sort of body responsible for making parading determinations. For a start, it is not really fair. Secondly, Alliance takes all the blame when something goes wrong. Thirdly, the way Alliance supporters want the country to be operated is through partnership, dialogue and agreement. Not via Alliance sitting on a throne glaring down and issuing decrees to the assembled hordes.

    Whatever the setup becomes, it needs to be independent of politicians (yet accountable to them), in the way that the Parades Commission is.

    I think devolving responsibility to the councils as the first step in parades adjudication is a good idea. There still needs to be the concept of a permit of some kind being issued. In cases where the parade is not contentious, it should be a case of rubber stamping the permit. Otherwise adjudication would have to take place, with escalation to a regional level body to handle the cases which are disputed and make rulings.

    I find it bizarre that the DUP are presenting this as a precondition to devolution of policing and justice powers, though. Surely the best way to sort this out would be to get the powers devolved quickly so that a local minister can consult, seek agreement, and implement the best solution for everyone, rather than getting someone in London to do it for us ?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Can we please, please have some moderation to get rid of the contributions which contain nothing but abuse ?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Joe

    Eamonn, for the benefit of those of us far away, could you give us a brief bio. I know Mick allows anonymity for his bloggers but I suspect your name is real.

    Eamonn’s book (with Patrick Bishop) “The Provisional IRA” is probably the best concise history of said organization out there; thorough, well researched and well written. It’s real nice that he’s blogging here on Slugger.

  • Fabianus

    Comrade Stalin

    Whatever the setup becomes, it needs to be independent of politicians (yet accountable to them), in the way that the Parades Commission is.

    Those are arguably the wisest words I’ve yet heard spoken on the issue. The politicians must be kept offside.

  • joeCanuck

    Thanks for that info, Comrade.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Comrade Stalin,

    the wisdom of having politicans involved is certainly debatable but if they are to be involved and contentious parades get referred back up to Stormo then the deciding vote on any committee/panel will have to be that of the Alliance or the system simply would not have support of the orange and green camps.

    This is a positive thing for the Alliance party, the only party non-tribal enough to be trusted to make an impartial decision, given proof, if further proof were needed, to the contention that if you want non-tribal politics in the Irish Northern Territories then the Alliance Party and not funny the UUP/ToryAlliance/what-the-feck-is-it/merger is your only man.

  • joeCanuck

    This is a positive thing for the Alliance party,

    Supping from a poisoned chalice is hardly positive.
    If that were to happen, it could, unfortunately, end up in the hands of our judges, through requests for Judicial Review. As if they don’t have enough to do as it is. (Judges, that is.)

  • Comrade Stalin

    Sammy,

    You’re being very nice, but I don’t want Alliance to take the role of emperors ruling by decree. That is certainly not how I would see the justice ministry operating if Alliance end up taking the hot seat.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    joeCanuck,

    surely that same logic will apply to the Justice Ministry – if you have a strength and a distinctive positive role to play then surely you gotta flaunt it.

  • Cahal

    Will ‘West of the Bann’ look even greener after this move?

  • Comrade Stalin

    if you have a strength and a distinctive positive role to play then surely you gotta flaunt it.

    I always thought you were going to be disappointed by what the devolution of justice will mean in practice, but the problem is more acute than I thought.

  • joeCanuck

    In that case then, Sammy, why not just appoint the leader of Alliance as a Marching Supremo, since all contentious parades are going to end up in his/her hands anyway, as you envision it.
    Let me make a proposal. At the same time as winding down the Parades Commission, set up a one time judicial tribunal to examine all contentious parades (there are only a handful, right?) and to make a semi-permanent (10 or 20 year) ruling on contentious routes. The marching orders and residents groups can make their pitches along with any other 3rd parties who can establish an interest. The PSNI would be included also to state the impact on policing. Everyone would be required to accept the rulings of the Tribunal in advance be it outright allowing or banning or restrictions.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    joeCanuck,

    The 10 or 20 year idea seems like a reasonable one but you have to wonder what the impact of being told that you are not being allowed to parade/or having to endure a parade for that amount of time would be – it could be a rallying call for action by either side – as it stands and listening to the Orange Order on the other thread that Pete B has – they appear to be able to endure disappointing decisions this year but only becasue they anticipate a change in their fortunes with the abolition of the parades commission in the near future.

  • joeCanuck

    Yes, Sammy,
    But assuming that the Parades Commission continued to exist, in the absence of changed circumstances, they are going to be presented with the same “facts” year after year and, assuming they are a reasonable bunch of people which I think they are, they are going to keep coming up with the same decision.

    The submit word is “half”. Allow contentious parades every other year?

  • LURIG

    For many Nationalists the parading issue has largely been resolved with a few contentious ones in North Belfast and North Antrim to be sorted out. Any attempt by the DUP OR Sinn Fein to horse trade, reopen this festoring sore and push marches down the Garvaghy and Ormeau Roads again will not be tolerated one iota. The sight of Catholic residents getting hammered off the road once again to allow these sectarian knuckledraggers to strut their loyalist paramilitary hate will kill the political institutions for a generation and drive 1000’s of bitter angry young Nationalists towards the dissidents. Sinn Fein have to get that into their thick detached skulls once and for all. If the Parades Commission is abolished to suit Robinson and Sinn Fein’s lust for ministerial power most of us should emigrate because if past experience is anything we will be in for a horrible period only far worse this time. Those fools who do not learn from their past mistakes are doomed to repeat them.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Joe,

    I’d fear that 20 years, or even 10 years, is too short. In any case, a group of residents somewhere – not necessarily with an agenda of their own – may decide that they are sick of a certain parade (or what is associated with it) going past, and dispute it.

    In my view the Orange Order get treated very leniently. In other places, such as parts of the USA for example, their parading would be unrestricted but they would be expected to pay for the costs of policing and cleanup. The massive costs of policing and cleanup of the 11/12th are currently borne by the taxpayer. While I respect the right of the OO and their supporters to have a good time, celebrate what they want to celebrate in their own way etc, it annoys me that significant amounts of public money go into this.

    These things create all kinds of opportunities for the Shinners to interfere, but it is notable that they have chosen not to. As such, I think the best thing the OO could do is win themselves a bit of credit, and a bit of breathing space, by conceding a few of the contentious parades. That passes the baton of compromise back over to the anti-march brigade and allows them to claim credit, in whatever way they choose, for not giving the hoods and thugs like those in Ardoyne an excuse. Sometimes the best thing to do is back down, even if you feel you are in the right.

  • Fabianus

    Comrade Stalin

    Sometimes the best thing to do is back down, even if you feel you are in the right.

    Yes, in the wider universe this is known as “compromise”. As a staunch supporter of the Union I look upon the OO as a malodorous doggie turd on the road to the reconciliation of differences.

  • borderline

    Hmmm. Reference to turd by Fabianus.

    Nurse! Nurse!

  • Fabianus

    borderline

    No, a malodorous turd. Do get it right, there’s a good boy, woof.

  • USA

    As I mentioned earlier I remain to be convinced that this was a suprise to SF. I would even suggest that there are so many safe guards built in that SF finger prints appear to be on the proposal.
    Horse trading could be the outcome at council level, as it would generally mean the OO having to ask SF for permission to parade West of the Bann and vice versa East of the Bann. Any contentious parades then get kicked upstairs to a commission on which would serve SF nominated members.

    If this whole idea has been dreamed up merely as a sop to Robinson for selling the P+J transfer to his followers then I would have to conclude that the cost benefit analysis does not add up.
    For while it may work, I would also be equally worried that this proposal may serve only to destablize the situation come “marching season” with councils in uproar and everyone focussing on Parades decisions again. This only serves to raise sectarian tensions and …..well we have all seen that movie before.

  • USA

    It was a strange leap from P+J to gutting cross border bodies but I would still like to hear Mr Mallie expand on his view that the cross border bodies “are looking increasingly limp and meaningless”.

  • paddy

    we only need the parade thing sorted for another 7yrs sure were getting a united ireland in 2016 according to the great bearded one if they wont tolerate funding prod schoolkids down south the oo has no future according to geroid

  • Sean

    To me this looks like SF eschewing the short game (egg on face/unionists claiming victory) for their legendary long game (republican control of parading)

    Funny thing is will they outright ban them or merely impose costs and there by circumventing the equality commision

    Are the few thousand orangemen willing to spend millions just to annoy a few thousand non-orangemen?

    Will the blue bag brigade pay to attend?

    Complacency will be the end of annoy the catholics day