“This is an attempt to curtail liberties and rights…”

As I mentioned yesterday, there is a growing lobby opposed to the DUP/SF drafted legislation on contentious parades public assembly.  The Guardian has a short post by Dr Vicky Conway of the Human Rights in Ireland group blog.  As the post at the Guardian points out

The Public Assemblies, Parades and Protests Bill, published on 20 April of this year, stems from the Hillsborough Agreement of February which established a committee to deal with parading issues. Recognising the competing rights of all relating to parades in Northern Ireland the committee was tasked with developing new procedures for submitting notifications of parades and resolving any objections raised to these. You’ll note this aim relates to parades, not protests or assemblies, but nonetheless the bill extends into those territories.

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Certainly some approach to handling the thorny issue of contentious parades in Northern Ireland must be found but why have protests and other public assemblies been dragged into this debate? At a recent rally in Belfast speakers from trade unions and the Anti-Poverty Network expressed the fear that these moves were designed to prevent members of the public from expressing their disquiet at budget cuts and possible job losses, likely to flow from the recession, through peaceful protest. This is an attempt to curtail liberties and rights and whether or not you personally participate in protests we should all recognise the rights of others to do so.

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  • Munsterview

    I have already protested against this and made my feelings known in previous submissions and I do so again now, it is totally Over The Top.

    May I once again remind all PSF supporters that on our way to political inclusion, there was not one demonstration, picket or other public political event that I attended that would have complied with these rules.

    This proposed legalization is nothing other than an unnecessary and unwarranted attack on civil liberties. It is also one that if Cosgrave, Cooney and Co tried on in the seventies we would have had a mass rally against it in Dublin and also left the establishment in now doubt that they would want us back on that issue!

    This is not ‘poacher turning gamekeeper’ as much as the poacher now owning the estate and keeping the plebs in their place. I cannot fathom what certain people are thinking as it must be quite obvious to them that this is a definitely a bridge too far!

    Perhaps there is a secret agenda to bring about Republican unity as I cannot think of another issue so likely to bring about a united front of opposition among all fractions?

  • Drumlins Rock

    Can Orangemen join your protest too? the reason many of them did not swallow the DUP line the other night boils down to many of the same issues, whereby the slightest infringement makes the parade/protest/rally illegal.

  • It is a blatant attempt to curtail civil liberties but why is anyone surprised? DUP/SF are two halves of the same coin, neither is big on free speech and the only ‘gatherings’ they ever thought justified were their own.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Pete,
    you know the hundreds of posts you gave birth to, drawing attention to the problem for SF that they had signed up to police before they had a firm date for the transfer of police to Stormo. Remember – they had conned their party.

    Well perhaps you might like to do just the one post now on how the DUP used the promise of having secret plans and clever tricks to sort out the parades issues in order to get support from their party to support the transfer and that fact that now surprise, surprise they have no such thing.

    Gwan Pete just the one?

  • Munsterview

    Why nor? It is your country too.

    Restrictive legislations as we have seen here North and South and across the water, once on the statute book having a habit of staying there.

    The time to resist these things is before they become law; while there is still freedom to protest that is!

  • Pete Baker

    Well if that’s what you think is going on, parallels included, then off you go and document it.

    You’ve had posts above the fold here before, I’m sure Mick will give you space again.

    In the meantime, I’m focusing on the actual legislation that both Sinn Féin and the DUP are trying to get through the Assembly.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Pete,

    do you not think that is what is going on?

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Pete,

    do you not think that is what is going on?

  • Pete Baker

    I know you’d like to change the subject Sammy but, for now, let’s focus on the actual legislation that both Sinn Féin and the DUP are trying to get through the Assembly.

  • MonkdeWallydeHonk

    Pete

    This is an excellent article by Dr Conway. IMO, she hits the nail on the head in the following line”

    “Certainly some approach to handling the thorny issue of contentious parades in Northern Ireland must be found but why have protests and other public assemblies been dragged into this debate?”

    Despite the OO wails of protest “Loyal” Order marches are not the same as legitimate peaceful protests against budget cuts etc. The key word being peaceful – hardly what the OO are famed for? It seems that all groups who wish to protest are suffering because of the history at Drumcree, Whiterock etc.

    This woeful piece of proposed “legislation” is no more than I would expect from the intellectual giants of DUP/SF.

    IMO, any sensible legislation should differentiate between “Loyalist” or Republican Parades on one hand and cross-community gatherings (for want of a better phrase) on the other.

    Frankly, as a moderate Nationalist, I have no issue with the few Nationalist parades that are deemed as contentious being subject to the proposed legislation as it stands.

    I certainly feel, and I believe that the vast majority or ordinary people would agree, that events such as peaceful democratic protests such as those on budget cuts, the Iraq war and even foxhunting (although I abhor it) do not need to be regulated in the same manner.

    It seems to be the OO who have the biggest problem by insisting on their non-existent “right” to march where they want when they want.

    In summary, I think this legislation should be rejected by the assembly. It needs to be rewritten with a much more lenient set of rules for non-contentious gatherings.

    The stricter regulation should be left unchanged and applied to “Loyalist” and Nationalist marchs that want to go through areas where they are not welcome by the majority of the local community and their presence will simply be inflamatory.

  • redhugh78

    When I read the title I thought Pete was blogging about the arson atack on the SF offices in Limavady by loyalists, should have known better.

  • aquifer

    The Unions are worried about this legislation as it would curtail their ability to quickly organise a protest against particular cuts.

    The Orange created the problem, deal with the Orange.

    No surprise that Stalanist Fein went along with it. The armed Provo campaign made it impossible to sustain a non-violent cross-community campaign for civil rights. SF have followed the logic of that, banning spontaneous mass protest.

    All hail to the wisdom of grand army council lodge.

  • People who shout rights should accept that fundamental rights are already constrained and endorsed by those now shouting loud against the extension of this attack on fundamental rights. A slight change to the last sentence here makes the point:

    “This is an attempt to curtail liberties and rights and whether or not you personally participate in PARADES we should all recognise the rights of others to do so.*

  • Ultonian

    some would say aquifer, the residents or Sinn fein created the problem deal with them!

    My view is intolerance created the problem so deal with that and specifying certain groups only breeds the intolerance thatcreated the problem

  • Ultonian

    Fundamentally I couldn’t disagree more

    – sectioning groups out for special treatment has no place in a liberal, pural, democratic society.

    Personally I think that all laws should apply equally and that they should be written to enable them to be applied in all appropriate circumstances but here’s the rub if this were to be the case then all parades and protests should be treated the same.

    Curtailing any rights civil or human should only be done in the most extreme cases, what we have done in NI is rather than negotiate our way out of problems we have opted to legislate our way out. In essence complicating the matter and promoting intolerance

    Demonising one section of our community doesn’t work and designing laws for one section of our community definitely dosen’t work –

    what is needed in a rethink taking tolerance as a starting point andonly preventing parades and protests that are deliberately designed to offend or cause trouble. The key to this of course is to judge who is seekingto cause the trouble!

  • The Raven

    This is lovely. Can I get a group hug….?

  • The Raven

    …or indeed the damage done to the Orange Hall at the far end of that town a few moments later….

  • Didn’t a senior member say that to all intents and purposes?

  • A senior member of Sinn Fein?

  • redhugh78

    But sure the Orange order are not ‘political’ so not relevant to Slugger (or so we’re told)

  • Munsterview

    Nah! Trees only! ( provided they are native species of course )

  • MonkdeWallydeHonk

    Ultonian

    It rather depends on your definition of “intolerance” doesn’t it?

    Personally, I wouldn’t allow a BNP demo to pass through a predominantly Black, Asian or Jewish neighbourhood. It is clear that they wouldn’t be welcome and their presence would be inflamatory.
    Nor do I think that a Republican parade should parade through a predominatly ‘Loyalist’ area.

    The only people that have an issue with this are the OO who (whether you or they like it or not) are pereceived as an anti-Catholic and political organisation (no-one has fallen for that Civil and Religious Liberty crap since 1998 and Drumcree).

    As I said earlier, as a Modertate Nationalist, I have no problem with restrictions on the few Nationalist parades that are deemed as contentious.

    It is the OO who frankly are the problem. Only a small percentage of their parades are contentious – it’s not as if anyone is trying to stop them parading forever (as far as I’m concerned, they can have 10 parades a day every day in areas where they are welcome).

    In areas such as lower Springfield, they have reached a compromise with local residents and it’s all passed off peacefully which is great.

    However, the OO need to realise that there are a few parades where the local demography has changed and they are no longer welcome. There is no “right” to parade on the “Queens Highway” where they want when they want – everyone in GB as well as NI is subject to restrictions to preserve public order.

    As I understand it, there are less than 30 contentious OO parades out of more than 1600. The OO have hardly helped their cause by constantly refusing to discipline Lodges that have banners/bands commemorating “loyalist” terrorists. Frankly, I don’t call objecting to this behaviour “intolerant” – I’d call it decency and exposing more hypocrisy from a supposedly religious organisation.

    The truth is that, if the OO simply bit the bullet on about 2% of its parades and either reached an accomodation with residents and, in a few cases where this isn’t possible, simply reroute their parade permanently – there would be no need for any of this.