Parades issues

Mick shouldn’t beat himself up too much about his unfulfilled predictions. Deadlocks by their very nature burst open when they don’t stick. Remember all the drama when deadlock turned to breakthrough or vice versa so many times – over powersharing in 1974, voluntary coalition in 1975, the promised land of the GFA 1998, that dreadful day in October 2003 when the First Assembly finally imploded before our eyes at Hillsborough, when a hapless and muddy General de Chastelain couldn’t give enough details of IRA decommissioning to satisfy a LOL mascot goat. I haven’t a notion what the sticking points are but parades is put forward as a prime issue in unionist “community confidence”. Bizarre you might think, but there it is. Clearly the DUP must be seen not to negotiate under duress. But if after all, the loathed Parades Commission is scrapped and something like Paddy Ashdown’s interim report replaces it , a very robust and carefully balanced system of local democracy is proposed to take its place. The big question is, can the parties grasp such a stinging nettle? Sinn Fein I presume fear that unionist controlled councils would try to nod through contentious parades and they must not lose out to fringe republicans like Brendan MacCionnaith The balance that is proposed in the Ashdown plan needs to be buttressed by the local Human Rights Bill Sinn Fein and the SDLP are demanding but unionists resist as a back door route to nationalist gains. But as Peter Robinson himself once pointed out, an HR Bill could equally benefit unionists where competing rights are involved. So a trade -off may be possible here. Not that any deal along these lines would be a breeze. The Ashdown plan adopts the very consociational principle of banging heads together that has produced Assembly deadlock, and that’s a worry. It assumes both the DUP and Sinn Fein are capable of taking joint responsibility for parades decisions at council and FMDFM level. While that’s entirely appropriate in theory, it’s a huge ask, given the level of mutual distrust. The leading parties will be fearful that they could be publicly humiliated by outflanking movements on either side. But when I recall Gerry Kelly’s broken arm at Ardoyne, maybe it’s doable.

  • Lionel Hutz

    Funny how when both the DUP and Sinn Fein are in trouble, they manage to stop slagging each other off and get the deal done. Any day now both parties will be selling their great deal to the public. It would make the blood boil.

    Unionist community confidence seems to about balncing what’s worse for the DUP. Now that not devolving P & J would result in a damaging election, it’s suddenly not as bad to keep the assembly going and do the deal. Or maybe their NI wide referendum just came back positive.

    On parades, there will be 3 or 4 years of brinksmanship before the next election when a clear plan will be struck.

    Are the public so blind?

  • wje

    It is somewhat ironic that SF appear to be willing to give the DUP something that SDLP wouldn’t even agree to give to Trimble – Orange marches along the Garvaghy Road in Portadown, with the Lower Ormeau thrown in for good measure.

    After all, does anyone really believe that this is not what the DUP actually mean when they speak about a resolution of the parades issue?

    How will SF sell that? After all, following SDLP criticism, SF had to back off from their original position of open support of the Ashdown report to a position of “it was never agreed upon or signed off by us.”

  • Remember the two you highlighted, Lower Ormeau and Garvaghy are so called ‘legacy parades’, set aside in the Ashdown review.

  • It was October 2002 Brian, that the first Assembly went bust. 14th Oct 02.

  • wje

    Snowstorm –
    Lower Ormeau and Garvaghy not set aside but are parades on which the Ashdown body said it had “still to reach a conclusion….We
    recognise these are of vital importance and hope that, after further consultations, we are in a position to make recommendations to the
    Government on these matters when we deliver our final report.”

    Why not publish?