FM and DFM “will promote and support the agreed outcomes of the working group.”

Some of the key elements in the “indigenous” “home-grown” “made in Ulster” deal [pdf file] relating to parading are as follows. The First and deputy First Ministers “have agreed to set up a co-chaired working group comprising six members, appointed by them, with experience of dealing with parading issues which will bring forward agreed outcomes which they believe are capable of achieving cross community support for the new and improved framework. This work will begin immediately and will be completed within three weeks.”

3. We recognise that support from all sides of the community has the potential to create a new improved framework for the management and regulation of public assemblies including parades and related protests. We believe that such a framework should reflect the key principles of:
· Local people providing local solutions;
· Respect for the rights of those who parade, and respect for the rights of those who live in areas through which they seek to parade. This includes the right for everyone to be free from sectarian harassment;
· Recognising that at times there are competing rights;
· Transparency, openness and fairness;
· Independent decision making.

4. The working group has been tasked to take forward work in the following areas, building on the interim report of the Strategic
Review of Parading. This will inform the public consultation, as part of the schedule, as set out in the timetable below:
· Procedures relating to the receipt and notification of parades and assemblies; objections relating to them; necessary actions arising from the lodging of objections; and the facilitation of dialogue and mediation;
· In the event of the failure of mediation, recourse to independent adjudications and procedures;
· Adjudication arrangements comprising an appropriate mix of lay and legal expertise with sufficient resources to operate effectively and efficiently;
· A code of conduct which is legally enforceable;
· The right of citizens to freedom from all forms of harassment.

Implementing proposals on parades has been “a work in progress” for some time.

And some of the detail from the interim Strategic Review of Parading in 2008.

Back to today’s agreement [pdf file]

5. The working group by agreement may add to the above points.

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


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]

And the time-frame for those proposals to be implemented

Parading – Timetable

Assumes maximum priority in Assembly at all stages.

FM/dFM appoint working group 8 February

Working group begins work 9 February

Working group completes work and reports on agreed outcomes to FM/dFM By 23 February [added emphasis]

Commencement of the drafting of Bill to implement working group agreed outcomes (working group to assist during drafting process to confirm Bill delivers agreed outcomes) End w/c 22 Feb

Draft Bill completed Late March

Assembly assumes responsibility for the parades legislation Late March/early April

Draft Bill published for consultation Late March/early April

Completion of consultation w/c 8 June

Consideration of consultation responses and finalise Bill w/c 15 June

Executive approves introduction of Bill in September w/c 29 June

Assembly summer recess (assuming returns on 6 September)

Text of Bill submitted to Speaker and Speaker fulfils all formal requirements to legislate in the Assembly w/c 6 September

Bill introduced (at least 7 working days after submission to Speaker) w/c 13 September

Second stage w/c 20 September

Committee Stage (30 working days under SO33 – can be shortened with accelerated passage) w/c 27 September

Halloween Recess 1 week

Consideration Stage w/c 15 November

Further Consideration Stage w/c 22 November

Final Stage w/c 29 November

Bill submitted for Royal Assent w/c 6 December

Royal Assent (if urgency procedure can be invoked under s.15(3) of 1998 Act) w/c 13 December

They’ve wisely allowed some slippage room between 23 February and 9 March…

Initial reports are also to be provided to the Executive on Section 4, “Outstanding Executive Business”, and Section 5, “Outstanding Issues from St Andrews”, of today’s agreement [pdf file] “by the end of February”.

, , , , ,

  • Very bold decision.

    It will be very interesting to hear what the Orange Order have to say on this, any reservations will no doubt be eagerly seized upon by both the TUV and the UUP and feature in the election campaign.

  • Kevsterino

    I’d say the orange walkers have some decisions to make this summer.

    Do they go all out to sweeten the pot by being as acceptable as possible? With this set-up it appears that new rules (code of conduct) are coming down the pike. It might be a good time to tighten up the stewardship of all the contentious parades this summer.

    I still don’t see where the Parades Commission failed, seeing as how much more peaceful the last few years have been in the summertime.

  • ardmaj55

    Kevsterino. The DUP seem to think that, if they can get rid of the structure called the ‘Parades Commision’ they don’t need to worry about the replacement. But the residents of the affected areas are not well in with SF anymore, so OO won’t find it any easier to get marches through. Sooner or later Orangemen will realise they’re no better off with the PC gone.

  • barryfrombelfast

    Whatever any ‘secret understandings’ with the OO, BP & ABD, another secret protocol to the Hillsborough Agreement may yet rip it apart.

    Apparently jocular and innocuous remarks by the FM&dFM; camouflage a shocking deal. It is now understood that the (UK)PM has indeed negotiated with the IOC, at the instigation of the FM, that ‘Negotiating’ will be a Olympic sport @ London 2012.

    We can reveal here tonight that the secret protocol allocates membership of the UK Negotiating Team to NI political parties. The dFM’s otherwise innocuous remarks (‘we have been a negotiating team for 20 years’) mask an agreement that, instead of membership of the team being determined by d’Hondt, SF, in an extraordinary reversal, will make up 56% of the Negotiating Team and the DUP, only 44%.

    We can further reveal that the secret protocol sets up OFNdFN (Olympic First Negotiator and deputy First Negotiator) and that, in a shocking development, the dFM has already been designated as First Negotiator.

    Unfortunately, this secret protocol is subject to a super-injunction and we are not at liberty to mention it. But, when it hits the Sundays in a couple of weeks (in guttural ‘awl hack’ voice) ‘you heard it here first’.

  • John O’Connell

    I think that the deal could fall on parades. If so, it is a bad deal for everyone because it is not going to be honoured.

  • Stewart

    I wonder will the code of conduct include the banning of paramilitary supporting bands who presently accompany lodges during parades & the disbandment of lodges associated to loyalist paramilitaries like Old Boyne Island Heroes LOL 633?

  • Medillen

    ‘But the residents of the affected areas are not well in with SF anymore’ ardmaj55

    A bit of an over statement, because Brendan Maconnaith has joined Eirigi, suddenly all residents in the Garvagh Road, Ardoyne, Whiterock, rasharkin etc do not support Sinn Fein anymore is I think a gross exaggeration. The resolution to any parade is the same now as it has always been, respect, dialogue and an acceptance that the reult of that dialogue may result in an agreed parade or no parade.

  • FitzjamesHorse

    The Parades Commission has been an outstanding success as it has changed the background to these parades.
    When one considers the default position in 1997 (1998?) when the last Orange march on Garvaghy Road occurred, it is obvious that there is a new default position.
    While there was always an element of competing “rights”, the rights of the residents have moved into a more central and probably dominant position.
    With each passing year, the position has moved. That genie wont go back into the bottle.

    While quite moderate unionist opinion backed the Orange Order (long tradition of parades, harmless, colourful, Christian, silent band and 15 minutes of inconvenience for residents whipped up by the Republicans)….I think that has moved to a “get over it” call to the Portadown Orange men. The tradition has been broken, SF is actually in government and Orange Order is itself torn between modernisers and traditionalists.
    Meanwhile moderates couldnt be bothered.

    There will obviously be no parade this year and any reasonable analysis is that if a parade causes trouble, it shouldnt happen.
    Added to the reality that one dodgy parade being allowed….will result in 100 legitimate harmless parades being targetted.

    The Unionist dissidents..those who want the Peace Process to fail being allied to the traditional cause there really is no way that these contentious parades will happen.
    And when they are banned we are into the countdown for Stormont Elections.

  • ardmaj55

    Medillen. I have maybe overstated the case in saying they’re not well in with SF, . They, more than likely still vote SF but still take a hard line with marches knowing this is alright with SF in any case.

  • FitzjamesHorse,

    Not sure the 2 governments should have agreed to allow the removal of the parades commission as it looks like a recipe for disagreement and now could take Stromont down with it.

    The parties should have asked for tax altering powers or something of practical use as well.

  • FitzjamesHorse

    ardmaj55…I think some like Brendan McKenna are very anti-SF. THey would love to see SF fail. They are a well motivated minority.
    Yes youre right about many of the others who whatever their personal feelings are SF at heart.

  • ardmaj55

    FJH If you note that the 14 dissidents in DUP assembly team, have not [in spite of Robbo’s hard sell] given their assent to the so called ‘clever device’ of February working group, it’s obvious the campbells and morrows will still vote against P&J on march 12th or whichever date it is. The
    working group is apaper tiger as SF knows, so they won’t give robbo any excuse to bring down the P&J vote by hindering the working group. So, the P&J vote will depend on other parties making up the numbers to replace the 14 votes against on the DUP side. The agreement is far from being successfully secured.

  • ardmaj55

    FJH [11] Unless i’ve missed something, the DUP have taken the OO line on parades, ie that the queen’s highway’ argument means residents groups in Portadown or elsewhere don’t need to be consulted. If that was true, they [DUP] have now conceded for the first time, the principle enforced by the PC, that agreement needs talks with residents.
    This means the DUP have quietly caved in on parades as well as P&J, and are now hoping to fool their voters that swopping ‘The Parades Commission’ for A parades commission of a sort yet to be defined, is a quid pro quo for P&J.
    They have a fairly low estimation of their voters intelligence then.

  • FitzjamesHorse

    keep your eyes on David Simpson MP/MLA for Upper Bann.
    The arithmatic in the constituency looks against him. Id be curious to see how hard he opposes it. I strongly suspect that the only thing that can save him in May is to try and keep about 3,000 votes drifting towards TUV if they stand there.

    If he jumps to TUV he wont retain enough of his votes to hold on.
    And staying within DUP and being vocal against the agreement COULD save him.

  • ardmaj55

    FJH [14] from the arithmetic in westminster election, only two seats look safe for the duppers, alas one of those is Campbell’s in north Derry, the other is Robbo’s strangford seat. The rest are on shaky ground.