News that the Orange Order’s Grand Lodge has voted to reject the proposals contained in the draft legislation [pdf file] on contentious parades public assembly has prompted a rant about the “Orange State” from Sinn Féin MLA John O’Dowd – one member of the ‘working group’ responsible for the proposals.
As Eamonn McCann pointed out in the Belfast Telegraph recently
In a discussion on Hearts and Minds, John O’Dowd was explicit that the provision for 37 working days notice had been inserted at the urging of residents’ groups. This wouldn’t begin to justify the extension of the provision to public meetings: and anyway, it’s not true.
It emerged at a public meeting in the Bogside last week that the local residents’ group had had no input into the draft. This week, Garvaghy Road and Lower Ormeau residents groups issued a joint statement declaring that, “Far from solving the issue caused by contentious parades in Portadown, south Belfast and elsewhere…the Bill creates a whole new range of problems…Instead of specifically dealing with the minority of marches that are problematic, the new legislation proposes to treat all parades and outdoor gatherings as if they were the same…Those responsible for the bill should go back to the drawing-board to create a workable solution based on common sense and human rights.”
So much for politicians doing more to defuse tensions…