DUP/Sinn Fein’s 37 day plan for public protest..

Interesting that just as a coalition between the Lib Dems and Conservatives with civil liberties being one of the key issues takes power in Westminster the joint DUP/Sinn Fein committee report on what replaces the current parades commission, is being chewed over in public (the report was delivered during the election campaign period). Eamonn McCann:

“Public meeting” is defined as “a meeting of 50 or more persons held in a public place to which the public or a section of the public are invited to attend”.

The example chosen in the guide to illustrate the working of the new measure is instructive: “If a group wanted to protest against the closure of a local sports facility this … would fall under the definition of a public meeting and would therefore be subject to the notification procedures for a public assembly outlined in clause 13.” Closure of a local sports facility … a far cry from Orange parades and residents’ protests.

Clause 13 tells that a campaign to save the sports facility – or library, or leisure centre, or residential home – would have to give 37 days’ notice of any planned protest. So notification of a rally scheduled for November 1 next would have to be submitted by September 24. Knee-jerk action to save services will be outlawed. The scope of the proposed law goes beyond parades issues. It has implications for trades unions, community organisations and campaigns.

There has been no public explanation – much less discussion – of how the DUP/SF working group established at Hillsborough came to devise not a remodelled Parades Commission, but an elaborate bureaucratic machine for managing and curtailing the right of citizens to voice protest.

Apart from the obvious question of how such a draconian piece of legislation comes from two parties who’s histories are steeped in public protest, there is the other of whether in the internet age when it is possible to organise public protests at the drop of a hat. And if there is to be a 37 days notice, what about trade union protests (for industrial actions or peace as with the Masserine killings)?

Hmmm…

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  • Lionel Hutz

    I was stunned when I read the document but I really shouldn’t have been. This is just another symptom of the totallitarianism of the megalomaniacs in Sinn Fein and the DUP.

    Interesting point would be that if a public authority wanted to avoid the publicity of a noisy process against any action, it could just fast-track it to make protests unlawful. Say for example, a hospitals trust wanted to close down the A&E department at a couple of local hospitals, they could just announce they are going to do it in around two weeks! Hmmmmmmm

  • Lionel Hutz

    I was stunned when I read the document but I really shouldn’t have been. This is just another symptom of the totallitarianism of the megalomaniacs in Sinn Fein and the DUP.

    Interesting point would be that if a public authority wanted to avoid the publicity of a noisy protest against any action, it could just fast-track it to make protests unlawful. Say for example, a hospitals trust wanted to close down the A&E department at a couple of local hospitals, they could just announce they are going to do it in around two weeks! Hmmmmmmm

  • Chris Donnelly

    Very poorly thought out proposal. Somebody was sleeping at the wheel….

  • Lionel Hutz

    Its just a clumsy attempt to make Parades, and the protests against them, seem normal. As if general legislation can be made to cover them.

    Parades are exceptional and there is a wisdom in the making and interpreting of law that you do not create a law based on the exception. This is a bad law, that is wide open to legal challenge, should any Trade Union take a case

  • Paul

    There is something wrong when two of the largest parties out to represent their people decide to silence them in such a way. Democracy is clearly not on the agenda’s of those concerned. But was it ever?
    This is certainly pre-emptive of future cuts, heightened tension of the unemployed and general social unrest. Is this the political equivalent of spiking a drink before the party gets too crazy???

  • The Raven

    Can I suggest that perhaps it’s time that we set up our own 38 Degrees movement, specifically for Northern Ireland?

    Anyone not familiar with what this is, here’s the site: http://38degrees.org.uk/

    Their “about us” page gives a few examples of what they have achieved. The more cynical among us will dismiss it as novelty, but when I see things like this above, I genuinely think it’s time that we, as members of the public, need to up our game in the face of “government” elected by 55% (or much less in some areas) of people eligible to vote.

    Can I just note that I fall under the East Londonderry constituency, and I have written to our absentee landlord around 10 times over the past year on a range of matters, including the Digital Economy Bill, on my own behalf and on behalf of other people, and have yet to even receive an acknowledgement.

    I’m seriously looking at the finances to see if I can afford to run as the none-of-the-above candidate next time.

  • Neil

    Disgusted at that. Sinn Fein should look back to the late sixties and imagine what would have happened to their support base if they’d been subject to such legislation. It most certainly wouldn’t have harmed SF in any way. The short sightedness of it astounds me.

    Part of me thinks why don’t they just merge and outlaw all the other parties.

    Who makes up the SF delegation on this working group? Would I be wrong in thinking it’s mostly Falls Road shinners? Perhaps Shinners from the least paraded on part of NI aren’t the best people to deal with this issue. Perhaps Shinners from areas where there are parades might have a better idea of what’s required? Just a thought.

  • Munsterview

    “……..I was stunned when I read the document but I really shouldn’t have been. This is just another symptom of the totalitarianism of the megalomaniacs in Sinn Fein and the DUP……. ”

    I have not read the proposal; I am just going on the little given but if it is true, then my first reaction is the same as Lionel’s with with the added question, have they taken leave of their senses and all gone stark, raving mad up there in Stormount ? Is is something in the water?

    If some elements of Sinn Fein even discussed this proposal, then it absolutely beggars belief and credibility given the road Republicans have come.

    In the darkest days of Cooney, Donegan and the ‘ Heavy Gang’ ( a Garda HQ specialist unit that had a free hand to batter Republicans especially those in custody) down here when Cooney & Co. and the Cruiser vied with each other to propose yet another set of restrictions on perceived opponents, especially Republicans every Monday morning!

    However the proposals if true should have quite a lot to appeal to the Orange Order, it should be now clear to them they no longer need hanker after the ‘Old Stormount’ whey should, here are it’s edicts in pristine purity from the current assembly.

    Perhaps there are plans to have Her Majesty formally open the next session of the Assembly and a few bright sparks have decided to get people accustomed to curtailed protest now to make the streets safe for her!

    Jesus Wept: if this is true anything is possible!

    Time for a few phone calls to calls to find out what is really happening up there.

  • Munsterview

    ( Sorry for double posting, ‘the cut and paste’ missed a piece, too totally pissed off at the very idea of this for concentration. Mick F. can you please bring back bring back preview! )

    “……..I was stunned when I read the document but I really shouldn’t have been. This is just another symptom of the totalitarianism of the megalomaniacs in Sinn Fein and the DUP……. ”

    I have not read the proposal; I am just going on the little given but if it is true, then my first reaction is the same as Lionel’s with with the added question, have they taken leave of their senses and all gone stark, raving mad up there in Stormount ? Is is something in the water?

    If some elements of Sinn Fein even discussed this proposal, then it absolutely beggars belief and credibility given the road Republicans have come.

    In the darkest days of Cooney, Donegan and the ‘ Heavy Gang’ ( a Garda HQ specialist unit that had a free hand to batter Republicans especially those in custody) down here when Cooney & Co. and the Cruiser vied with each other to propose yet another set of restrictions on perceived opponents, especially Republicans every Monday morning, they in their most megalomanic, delusional of moments, ( including Cooney’s drunken ravings) would not have dared try this on!

    However the proposals if true should have quite a lot to appeal to the Orange Order, it should be now clear to them they no longer need hanker after the ‘Old Stormount’ why should they, here are it’s edicts in pristine purity from the current assembly!.

    Perhaps there are plans to have Her Majesty formally open the next session of the Assembly and a few bright sparks have decided to get people accustomed to curtailed protest now to make the streets safe for her!

    Jesus Wept: if this is true anything is possible!

    Time for a few phone calls to calls to find out what is really happening up there.

    Reply

  • Lionel Hutz

    @Munsterview

    See here

    http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/public-assemblies-parades-and-protests-in-northern-ireland-2.pdf

    draft bill starts at page nine. Oh and by the way if anyone starts a small protest of less than 50 people, they can be committing an offence if it attracts a crowd. It is a bit lacking in definition but from my Reading of it, non-participants are included in the 50, even if they leave for a while and come back. Great stuff.

  • The Raven

    There are gems like this dotted throughout….

    “We also recommend that a legally enforceable code of conduct will require an individual during a public assembly, including a parade or protest, not to;

     use words or behaviours which are threatening, abusive, or insulting:

    at a place which is in the vicinity of the route or locations, or proposed route or location of a public assembly; and

    at or about the same time as the assembly is being held or is to be held if the individual was aware that an assembly is being held or about to be held.”

    I see gaps in this which are big enough to drive horse and coaches through. Who decides what is insulting? What is threatening? What is said in the heat of the moment that gives carte blanche for the heavy squad to move in?

    And so on…

  • Lionel Hutz

    Raven,

    there was a conviction for disturbing recently where a man had played some Wolfe Tones tracks in his car during a parade in Derry. Insulting will be very very wide.

  • hodgie

    poachers turned gamekeepers……….

  • joeCanuck

    Thanks for the link, Lionel.
    I have read the document and the only suggestion I can make is that they print it up on toilet people and sell it to the public at a discount (free to pensioners and the needy) so that it can be put to good use. One slight problem with that is that the document is full of holes.

  • joeCanuck

    The timetable for a general election in the UK is 25 days from when the writ is dropped. Public meeting, protest etc will not be possible. Someone needs to get real.

  • The Raven

    Lionel

    Playing the Tones should be enough to get anyone locked up, but not under this “legislation”. However, I digress…

    Is there any way of crowdsourcing a standard reply which we could all and variously submit before the date? I am not the greatest of writers, or indeed, legal minds, and while I would love to undertake such a piece of work, it would be….well…crap.

  • Anonymous

    I think these are the signs that a more community-based, cross community socialist movement is bound to evolve through what Mc Cann has been stating again & again.

  • joeCanuck

    Who would be the “organizer” of a crowdsourcing event? Will the PSNI need computer analysts to determine the time of the first message? By the time the police turn up who will be around to arrest? The whole document is an insult to the public that the politicos pretend to serve.

  • The Raven

    Soooooo shall we try and coordinate something….? Or can we rely on enough individual outrage…?

  • joeCanuck

    I’d go for it, Raven, except that I’m too far away.

  • joeCanuck

    I wonder what the Master of the Counterdemonstration thinks of this. If it had been in effect 40 odd years ago, it is likely that he would still be a backwoods hick preacher and the DUP wouldn’t exist.

  • Mr E Mann

    Joe and several others put their fingers on what the leading lights of both sides are thinking. SF and DUP both know the power of public demonstrations. They are both looking over their shoulders, worried about being overtaken by the next bunch of agitators on their respective sides who might come up just the same way they did.

    Both of these parties are democracy-challenged, SF because they are led by Leninists and DUP because they are led by religious fanatics. Here is an issue that the minority Nat and Unionist parties as well as Alliance ought to be all over, but they are failing.

    If I were orgainizing in NI for some ROI or UK party, I would argue that celarly the main NI parties are not capable of operating under normal rule-of-law conditions. In contrast, FF, Irish Labour, the Tories, or whoever, have long experience with this.

  • slug

    “NI parties are not capable of operating under normal rule-of-law conditions. In contrast, FF,”

    operates under rule of brown envelope conditions.

  • joeCanuck

    “Public meeting” is defined as “a meeting of 50 or more persons held in a public place to which the public or a section of the public are invited to attend”.

    Is a football match a public meeting?

  • joeCanuck

    Would a garden party at Buckingham Palace be considered to be a public meeting?
    What about a church fete?
    Stupid nonsensical piece of work intended to stifle long held rights of assembly.
    Someone should organize a protest meeting against it while they can.

  • Re-engaged

    I think his News Letter article of last week started that and would not be surprised to hear more

  • wj

    There was a well-attended meeting held in the Holiday Inn, Belfast, about this proposed law last Thursday; speakers included Patricia McKeown (UNISON), Brian camfield (NIPSA) and Barbara Muldoon from the Anti-Racist Network.

    There’s also a facebook page http://en-gb.facebook.com/group.php?gid=104617472916202&ref=share

    That page carries the following useful info:-

    THE PUBLIC ASSEMBLIES, PARADES AND PROTESTS BILL
    Q What does it mean?
    A Every gathering of 50 or more people will have to ask for permission to assemble 37 days prior to the date of assembly and will have to name ALL organisers and a list of ALL groups who will take part. Permission can be refused. The only exceptions will be gatherings inside buildings and funerals.
    Q Does the legislation specify any particular groups?
    A Yes. Bands, trade unions and campaign groups
    Q Does it give examples of types of gatherings?
    A Yes. An example used is a protest against the closure of a sports hall
    Q What is the penalty if permission is not sought or if it is refused?
    A Six months in prison for all participants and/or a large fine
    Q What will happen to participants?
    A Summary arrest without warrant
    Q Are there real examples of gatherings that have taken place where the participants could be criminalised and jailed under the proposed law?
    A Loads. The pro peace rallies held all across NI last year. The ARN protest against attacks on the Roma community, a protest outside the BBC when the BNP appeared on Question Time, the occupation of the Visteon factory, demonstrations against proposed water charges, demonstrations against the war in Iraq/Afghanistan, the postal workers dispute TO NAME BUT A FEW

    STOP THIS BILL
    On the 20th April 2010 the First Minister and Deputy First Minister published draft legislation in the form of the “Draft Public Assemblies, Parades and Protests Bill”. If the Bill becomes law, ALL gatherings involving 50 or more people, and which take place in any “public space” will be required to give 37 days prior notice.

    The proposed legislation has been put forward as a means of dealing with contentious parades. This is a cynical, dishonest move designed to encourage the wider population to ignore the proposals. Even those who have looked at the draft legislation have found themselves confronted with 67 pages of obscure complex terms designed to hide the reality of what it actually means.

    If the legislation is passed it will be one of the most draconian pieces of legislation in the whole of Europe in relation to the right to free assembly. It will affect the rights of every single person to organise themselves collectively as workers, trade unionists, community campaigners and political activists.

    It is not accidental that the legislation is being proposed now. The Assembly has announced that hundreds of millions of pounds worth of cuts are going to be made to our public sector. This will mean the loss of thousands of jobs, the closure of schools, the reduction of hospital beds, the extension of waiting lists for vital operations, the decimation of community services for the poor, the young and the old. It will mean more aggressive attempts to introduce water charges and other charges such as a “bin tax”. It will mean misery for hundreds of thousands of ordinary people.

    The two main parties in the Assembly who have already agreed to make these cuts are also the two parties who sat down together and drafted this proposed legislation. The intention could not be clearer. The purpose of the law is to smash any possible opposition to the destruction of the public sector and the sacking of thousands of workers.

    It is vital that a campaign be set up immediately to ensure that the Public Assemblies, Parades and Protests Bill never becomes law. If we don’t protest now against this Bill we may never be able to protest about anything in the future

  • Lionel Hutz

    Maybe this is one where you wouldn’t wanna sit back and moan about it.

    Raven,

    I would be happy enough to draft a standard reply if everyone used this thread to tell me what points they want to put in it.

  • joeCanuck

    The problem arose because of contentious parades. That is the only thing that should be addressed. Restrictions on the simple right of association and assembly should be no part of it.

  • Lionel Hutz

    Thats true, this is legislation that makes the exception the rule, which kinda sums this place up

  • Mark McGregor

    Why the need to crowdsource a response or go through a front protest group (now created by the SWP split as opposed to the SWP)?

    It is a public consultation and has an email address for your submissions (publicassemblies.consultation@ofmdfmni.gov.uk). My response has been in since I first noted this on Slugger last month – the day after it was issued.

  • Mark McGregor

    For the record, my response:

    ‘I believe your proposals to legislate on the right to Public Assembly are contrary to Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights, Article 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 21 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and numerous other International standards on Human Rights legislation.

    Your approach to the exercise of the right of Public Assembly makes it dependent on a favourable outcome after a lenghty and delaying application, results in unjustified interference and makes an internationally accepted right into a privlige to be applied for. Aspects of the legislation allow for further unacceptable and arbitrary alteration to the definition of Public Assembly by elected representatives.

    This shows an approach based on putting legislation and restriction ahead of free and legitmiate expression of an internationally accepted right.

    I urge you to entirely remove Public Assemblies from the proposed Act and allow this right to be fully exercised without restriction unless it is liable to create serious threat to life, property or public order – essentially the status quo as under the current Public Order Act.’

  • joeCanuck

    Excellent response, Mark. I can’t comment officially, of course, since I am not a resident but your letter encapsulates my feelings on the matter. There does need to be a better way to deal with parading but Assembly is a completely separate issue.
    I was pleased to see you quote specific laws etc since that gives me confidence that the proposed law will be able to be challenged in the Courts, if it comes to that.

  • Munsterview

    I have said elsewhere in the postings concerning Local Government that I distrust centralized power irrespective of whether it is in Republican of other hands. The old saying of……’ Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely’ would not seem to be misplaced here.

    The evidence may be there but I still have trouble believing it! Is there any possibility that like the ‘Border Commission of 1926, that a ‘think thank’ produced something so God Dam awful that there would be an outcry provoked allowing the proposals to be quietly dropped with a return to the status quo?

    Given the road Republicans like my self have travelled and what we had to endure the mind just boggles and refused to work.

    A question for Gerry Adams, Martin Mcguiness, Part Doherty et al, just how many of public meetings to protest against or get support for Northern Issues in the South would we Southern Republicans have got permission for during the seventies from the Southern State? How many meetings in defense of Armagh Women Prisoners would we have got permission for.? What would the reaction of the State be to every request I made to run an educational course in various Munster towns as I did, in the face of constant Branch bully tactics, if I had to apply for permissions?

    What support for Long Kesh Hunger Strikers on both occasions, or our Curragh Prisoners if we were adhering to these rules. ….. Can you just picture it…… Incidently events as described actually took place all bar the letter, that is, I was there on the day!

    To the Minister For Justice
    C.C to the Commissioner of the
    Garda Siochana,

    A cara,
    Re proposed Portlaois Prison Protest
    as you are no doubt aware from our letter of protest informing you of the fact, during the recent disturbances in Portlaois prison Eamon McThomas, well known historian and one of our members currently in the Political Prisoner wing in Portlaois prison, had all his personal papers torn up his researches work of the last couple of months ruined. Worse some rare books that he had on loan from The Old Dublin Society were deliberately destroyed by the a number of Prisoner Officers.

    This Minister is unacceptable behavior; be therefore advised that we are applying for permission to hold a large public protest meeting in Portlaois town centre on the first sunday after the usual 37 day notice has expired.

    In accordance of the requirement to give full details of the proposed meeting it is intended to first assemble in the centre of Portlaois Town, from there we will be marching and chanting slogans all the way to the gates of Portlaois Jail, the protest will be headed by a number of uniformed people marching in a formation usually referred to as a color party.

    Please note this is a Sinn Fein demonstration, this color party is not under the direct control of Sinn Fein stewards but I would not be at all surprised to find that they too will be following our proposed route. Rather than have them a formal part of the Sinn Fein march and demonstration we propose to wait until they have moved off ahead of our march and as the roads will be closed off anyway for their march, to convenience the gardai we propose following close behind.

    On reaching The jail entrance we will get as close as the gardai will allow us to go. This matter will be resolved by the usual pushing, shoving of garda lines, drawn batons and republican boots ect, no need to trouble yourself with these details, by now this methodology is a traditional means of parade route resolution between ourselves and the gardai. It seems to work!

    Once the meeting start we will be calling for the public to shun and boycott prison officers, calling the Gardai and The Defense forces Free State traitors etc. If you Minister are referred to by any of the speakers as a Collaborating Free State Bastard, that is because in the heat of the moment, the speaker will have gone off script. Again if this happens please note that the person that may do so will suddenly appear on the platform uniformed and masked, will say his piece and disappear into the crown. If so this person will not be under Sinn Fein control as you will no doubt appreciate, and we are not responsible for what anybody jumping on the platform may say.

    You will be pleased to learn that for once the meeting will not end with the the usual scuffles between Gardai and protesters, we have now identified the prison officer that we believe is the primary culprit not only in destroying the property of Eamon McThomas, we are now also satisfied that this individual has also stolen a valuable radio of his. After the prison meeting some of the platform party intend going in a private personal capacity to the Prison Officers house to ask for this radio back and express their intention to stay outside of there until it is.

    The formal meeting will be over at this stage, the meeting will be informed of intention to get the radio returned and it is quite possible that these members of the platform party will be accompanied by about 1,500 other people. If so they will be acting in their private capacity and any intimidation that the prison officer concerned may feel by 1,500 people turning up in a private housing estate is inadvertent and outside our control, Sinn Fein are only mandating three members of the platform party to go and are only responsible for their actions.

    While only responsible for the three individuals described, it is possible that the other 1,500 feel that their presence will however prevent future occurrences of the type of events as described happening to Eamon McThomas.

    One final matter Minister, could you please give your reply if permission is refused quicker than day thirty-five of the thirty seven days required for the notice period as on each of the last ten refusals we were too late to loge a High Court or other Appeal and all these meetings have had to be cancelled at the last minute at considerable inconvenience to our members. I am sure that this was not your intention.

    Thanking you for your time and attention

    Is mise, le meas, Mrs. P O’Neill

  • Rory Carr

    The only way to deal with draconian legislation as that seemingly proposed here is simply to openly defy the law again and again and again. The answer to curtailment of protest has always been increased protest and then more protest against the prosecution of those who protested and on and on…

    It’s simple really. Not easy, but it is simple. Just be willing to pay the price.

  • noel adams

    If 107 people were in stormont to question david forde, without 37 days notice are they all nicked?

  • Mark McGregor

    Rory,

    Some real cynics, like me, believe this never will be/never was intended to be implemented and is just a massive deflection exercise to ensure people focus/protest on a redherring element that will be fully overturned after consultation while SF and the DUP go about their agreed and self-interested task of eviscerating the Parades Commission and replacing it with a body under their direct political control.

  • joeCanuck

    Good point, Rory. Laws often fall into disuse when people simply ignore them in large enough numbers. You can’t lock up everyone and you can’t force someone to pay a fine. (Or can public employees over there have their wages garnisheed like in Canada?)

  • The Raven

    Well Mark, all I can is respect to you, with permission I’d like to use some of your words, but ultimately, while I come on here a lot, I don’t have the time or indeed expertise to catch everything that government puts out, or indeed respond to that which is beyond my dayjob. Shame on me for not seeing it a month ago, but then I didn’t know you’d be generous enough to share yours here. Thanks for posting that.

  • TheHorse

    Whats the purpose then Mark as the same rules in the report will be adhered to by any new members of a revamped parades commission.

  • Dixie

    I suppose this means if the Ogra Shinners want to protest against some right wing war monger meeting McGuinness in Stormont they’ll have to hold the protest in Dublin or even just over the border?

  • medillen

    The proposed legislation is based on a report put together by a small working group up against a very tigh timeframe, no doubt there will be many many issues with it. All of this is now up for public debate, scrutiny and alteration as it goes through the lenghty legislative process. Therefore an attempt to whip up undue concern over a small aspect of the draft Bill by the SWP and Eirgi is mere political point scoring. Put forward views, as Mark did, and the consultation will have to take them on board.

  • The only meetings SF and the DUP ever approved of were their own. On the one hand how could anyone be surprised at this.

    On the other I doubt it is a serious intention. In fact I think its a red herring to take our attention from something else.

    Time will tell…

  • TheHorse

    It forces collective opinion from both sides, a unified approach to a equally shared problem.

  • Mark McGregor

    Raven,

    My experience is that ‘cut and paste’ lobbying jobs get defined as ‘snow’ and instead of carrying additional weight through quantity get almost overlooked as coordinated attempts to make a point.

    I’d suggest you take a little time out to put down your own concerns however they come to you.

  • Mark McGregor

    medillen,

    As I noted at the time the timeframe demands to statisfy the dUP and SF meant not even the Justice Minister or his Department were consulted on a proposal that falls mostly under their remit despite that roel coming into existence prior to publication and Ford attending an Executive meeting were this was discussed prior to release.

    If the big players at Stormont don’t give a tinkers cuss what an Executive Minister thinks on the proposal you can be sure they don’t give a monkeys what anyone else thinks.

  • Brian MacAodh

    Loyalists and Republicans should team up and march on Stormont

  • The Raven

    They’re already away, and as I said: “some of your words”. It’s good to have a starting point. 😉

  • The Horse

    The only ‘problem’ with that is: SF and the DUP are the problem…

  • Munsterview

    midellen

    Just as there are certain universal norms without which we cannot really live, so also there are certain human right so basic and fundamental as to be self evident.

    1) the right to hold and express and propagate any religious beliefs and political views.

    2) the right to public assembly, peaceful protest and opposition to the State, it’s Agents and servants, or against any other corporations, companies, groupings or individuals.

    Without these basic rights upheld and guaranteed by society, there are no civil rights.

    While these civil rights should be absolute in every country they are curtailed to some extent under the guise of protecting ‘the common good’. However the usual case in these curtailments is they serve the ‘good’ only the powerful political, financial and other vested interests of society minorities while they are contrary to the interests of the common, power excluded majority.

    We are either on a road moving to a more free and tolerant society in the Six Counties or we are moving in the opposite; the road of this legalization is straight down the road to Franco’s Spain. This is a leaf from Maggie’s book at her worst around the time of the Hunger strikes and the Miner’s strikes.

    What is next, will some of us be told to ‘ write the letters’, that is the logical end of this particular direction !

  • wj

    medillen says:17 May 2010 at 8:35 pm “The proposed legislation is based on a report put together by a small working group up against a very tigh timeframe, no doubt there will be many many issues with it. All of this is now up for public debate, scrutiny and alteration as it goes through the lenghty legislative process. Therefore an attempt to whip up undue concern over a small aspect of the draft Bill by the SWP and Eirgi is mere political point scoring. Put forward views, as Mark did, and the consultation will have to take them on board”

    Unfortunately, medillin, all of this is NOT up for public debate or scrutiny as both Messrs Robinson and McGuinness refuse to publish the report and recommendations which they received from the joint DUP/SF parades working group.

    How can people properly comment on this consultation if they don’t have sight of the report and recommendations which influenced the draft legislation?

    If the British govt refused to publish a report SF would be the one’s leading the charge demanding publication.

    Finally, I wasn’t aware that Patricia McKeown of Unison or Brian Campfield of NIPSA were members of either the SWP or Eirigi. Both of these leading trades unionists probably aren’t aware of that either.

  • wj

    The Human Rights Commission has published its preliminary response to the draft legislation.

    http://www.nihrc.org/dms/data/NIHRC/attachments/dd/files/114/Preliminary_Response_Public_Assemblies_Parades_and_Protests_Bill_(May_2010).pdf

  • daisy

    Perhaps, as well as responding to the public consultation document everyone should drop a note to their DUP/SF MLAs. Assembly elections coming up next year just might focus their attention.

  • Delta Omega

    The other way is to play them at their own game and flood the system with notification of every possible public assembly. File these for football matches, school sports days, sponsored walks etc and watch the system crumble.

  • Delta Omega

    We’re not allowed to have an opposition in the assembly so SF/DUP are only taking things to the next natural progression by banning any opposition outside the assembly!

  • Yes, that is what Mark Thomas and other activists did with the restrictions imposed on public assembly in London under the terms of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005.

  • The Raven

    Well, I’ve just done that. This will be the 11th letter I’ve written (via email), in the past year. Given that I didn’t even receive an acknowledgement to the previous 10, I don’t expect much of a response.

  • Munsterview

    Well Raven; it is something anyway I suppose! Will you take a few wee suggestions suggestion from an Old Greyhead with some experience in these matters?

    Hand deliver a copy of the letter to the home door of your nearest Sinn Fein or D.U.P assembly man around 8 O’C some evening, take as many friends as you can with you, the more the merrier and discuss to proposed bill with this Assembly Man or Woman.

    Why not organize your own A.G T.B, ( All against The Bill ) group and do a little picketing outside the Local Offices also…… while you can still legally do it that is.
    I cannot still believe it ! If I were living up there I would be doing exactly that, this is most certainly a bridge too far.

    The aim of the whole campaign was New Politics, New Society and a New future. That is still the objective but if Sinn Fein continues down the present road they will be seen as not the best political organization to achieve that end by thinking Republicans. Bill Craig, Maggie Tatcher or Cooney down here at their height of repressive power would have just loved to introduced this type of legislation regarding political meetings.

    We would have resisted it then and we must resist now.

    A question for Gerry and Co.,if this legislation governing political meetings go on the books up there, how long do you think it will be before the Clowns down here In Fianna Failure enact something even more restrictive and draconian. Who the hell do you think it will be used against ?.

    There are no fig leaves available for this one!.

    As I write there are pictures of a protest outside the Dail, Sinn Fein banners everywhere, yet under these Bill proposals such a meeting could not take place as it was only decided to have it last week. For Christ’s sake would you ever collectively cop your selves on!.

  • medillen

    Munsterview, before you dissappear to far up your own backside. Let me remind you these are intial proposals aimed at establishing an acceptable framework for residents and marchers for resolving the contentious issue of parades in the north. the Bill will not proceed without cross community support through its various stages. As a Sinn Fein supporter I agree that any legislation that restricts peaceful protest is unacceptable and will not recieve sufficient support for legislation to be passed, in my view. So predictors of a imminent new franco style regime, need to pull their political horns in. It aint gunna happin.

  • Clanky

    How weird is it to see DUP / Sinn Fein written down like that in the way that unionists used to talk about Sinn Fein / IRA?

  • wee buns

    Is this the early 80’s England revisited? Seem to remember that around the time Maggot was squashing the Miners, a similar legislation was invoked, which served the purpose of further enraging an already (justifiably) enraged Englanders.
    Am I rememvering wrongly or is this how the Miners were criminalized? Certainly earned most of us an arrest at Greenham Common.

    There is no doubt that in the 80’s the security forces in the six counties did indulge in practice of crowd control, as their England was on the brink of civil eruption.

    Now the roles are reversed. A now pacified Ireland get time tested British medicine.

  • The Raven

    Medillen, it’s the fact that it even got as far as consultation. I only really keep up to date with stuff coming from DSD and a couple of others – never stuff from OFMdFM. Surely SOMEONE up there read that – even as a test firing – and said around the room “lads…this is a bit stalin, isn’t it…??”

  • wj

    medellin wrote – “As a Sinn Fein supporter I agree that any legislation that restricts peaceful protest is unacceptable and will not recieve sufficient support for legislation to be passed, in my view. So predictors of a imminent new franco style regime, need to pull their political horns in. It aint gunna happin.”

    Perhaps, as a Sinn Fein supporter you should maybe pose a few questions to the party at senior level based on the following:

    The Hillsborough Agreement resulted in Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness agree to appoint a Parades Working Group consisting of three DUP MLA’s and three Sinn Fein MLA’s. Those six MLA’s on the Parades Working Group were tasked (as per their terms of reference)to carry out a consultation to be completed within three weeks with an agreed report and recommendations to be delivered to the First and deputy First Ministers (by February 22).

    Furthermore, the terms of reference explicitly stated that “Following the completion of the consultation process, a Bill will be finalised. The Working Group will assist during the drafting process to confirm that the Bill faithfully reflects and delivers the agreed outcomes.”

    That latter point being the case, one must assume that the six MLA’s did indeed assist carry out their task of assisting in the drafting of this Bill and that they are happy that it contains what they agreed.

    If that is so, then clearly both Sinn Fein as a party and the DUP as a party are already signed up to this Bill.

    In order for any measure to receive cross-community support in the Assembly, it only requires the support of Sinn Fein and the DUP, both parties comprising the majority within their respective community designations of nationalist or unionist.

    So if these two parties agreed to the working group’s report and recommendations, then assisted in the drafting of the Bill to ensure it reflected and delivered the agreed outcomes, any expectations that it will be altered in its journey through the Assembly is sadly misplaced.

  • Munsterview

    Wee buns; a wee bit of off business for you left behind in a cut and paste.

    Regarding the flag colors : green was chosen over blue after some lengthy consideration. The first idea was to rework the ‘Confederation Of Kilkenny’ banner and incorporate some of these symbols but many of these had areligious significance that ran contrary to the emerging and evolving philosophy of French Revolution.

    Back to the drawing board; the Gael, Old English Planter stock and the Presbyterians who were against the establishment had, from the 1770 of reconciled their differences through the radical Masonic Lodges, they really were the United Irishmen. The problem was the lower order Protestants that could not see beyond Crown, King and who supported the Irish Establishment of the day and their English Masters.

    Russell of Mallow ( the man from God Knows Where ) is one of those supposed to have proposed a solution, as the dis-separate brothers were united through the Masonic Lodges, why not adopt a color that symbolized this unity with an acknowledgement of the other Protestants by giving them their own color on the flag. So it was done Green for the unity achieved through the Masonic Lodges, orange for the other Irish Protestants of the establishment and white for the hoped for peace between all parties in a New, Free, Republic. ( white color also had esoteric associations and symbols)

    In most Masonic iconography green is associated with ideas of resurrection and immortality, two themes that would be enshrined in the establishing of the new Republic. It was also the color or the Aca-Cia tree which in turn was a symbol of mortal life, rebirth and immortality and also to the Old Egyptians, the symbol of hope.

    Green is the predominant color of Scottish Masonic Grand Lodge furnishings and dress for the same reason; unfinished business there too, the Jacobite pulse still beats strong!

  • Munsterview

    medillen;

    for a start could you have a look at some of the postings from the ‘other side’ the intelligent ones that is and see if in reflection you can learn enough to express yourself to conduct a debate with a bit of good manners and civility!.

    Second point; the ‘ you can trust us lads, everything will be alright on the day’ mantra do not have too many takers down this neck of the woods any more, whatever of up there and I make no apology for that. Experiences is a good teacher.

    As to the rest ‘ wj ‘ have already posed the questions arising from your postings and has also drawn attention to the apparent contradictions in your analysis and explanations, I will leave him make the running for the present. I await your answers.