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”.

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