Human Rights Political Policing PSNI Brutality

The Parades Commission has given its determination on the ‘Loyal Peaceful Protestors’ march on 30th November through Belfast city centre. The purpose of the parade is given on the application as ‘Human Rights Political Policing PSNI Brutality’ and the date is to coincide with anniversary of the designated days vote in Belfast city council (which is actually on the Tuesday after).

Having received an application to bring 10,000 marchers and 40 bands through the city centres main streets from 1 pm to 4 pm on the busiest Saturday for shopping in the year, the Commission has directed that the march in its entirety must be clear of City Hall by 12 pm and pass the Royal Avenue/North Street junction by 12.30 pm. Business leaders and the leader of the DUP, Peter Robinson, had asked the organisers to call the march off given the potential economic impact on the city centre. Previously, Mike Nesbitt, leader of the UUP had also asked the organisers to call the march off.

However, as the Parades Commission indicates, it only actually received submissions about the march from city centre businesses and retailers, as well as the leisure, hospitality and tourism industry, and, Sinn Féin. The Commission specifically expressed its disappointment that it had not received received any representations from unionist politicians (so much for the public criticisms of the march, then).

The last part of the determination (Appendix B), usefully gives ‘Guidance for Anyone Participating in Parades in the Vicinity of Senstive Locations’, (guidance that has largely been disregarded in the past):

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  • keano10

    So Mike Nesbitt called on the organisers to call the march off, but he then failed to make any submission to The Commission so that his request could be facilitated…?

    AND – Where the hell did the SDLP disappear to in all this? Failing to make any representation whatsoever about a march which will wreck local business? Will Alistair McDonnell be able to explain why that happened…????

  • sean treacy

    For many years ,the political wing of the UVF held the UUP whip at Belfast city Hall so you can take anything from Nesbitt or his party with a pinch of salt.

  • aquifer

    So the UUP DUP offices cannot send an email.

    Or maybe its ‘cant’

    hypocritical and sanctimonious talk, typically of a moral, religious, or political nature

  • keano10

    Its not just the DUP/UUP though Aquifer. Where were the Alliance Party for instance? The supposedly non-sectarian party of the middle ground abjectly refuse to send a submission to The Commission on relation to a divisive sectarian parade which will ruin valuable trading hours for many businesses

  • Comrade Stalin

    keano10,

    abjectly refuse to send a submission

    Stop with the silly hyperbole. Nobody “abjectly refused to send a submission”. The only party which did was SF. I doubt party submissions to the Commission make a blind bit of difference here.

    Given that there is, mercifully, cross-party consensus that this parade/protest should not be taking place, perhaps the parties will consider assembly legislation to ban all parades of more than 50 people (say) in the city centre in the six weekends before Christmas. That would put a stop to this attention-seeking nonsense.

  • keano10

    Comrade,

    Clearly I have touched a raw nerve there but my point most definitely stands. You cannot possibly claim that submissions do not make a blind bit of difference when The Commission themselves have publicly berated political parties for not doing do. There simply were not enough submissions against the parade to give sufficient leverage to implement a ban.

    A number of parties need to take a long look at themselves here. If they fail to follow due process in these matters then they are dailing the electorate who voted for them.

  • keano10

    “Failing”

  • MonkDeWallyDeHonk

    CS

    I wouldn’t put it as strongly as Keano10 but, speaking as someone who has the utmost respect for Alliance in facing up to the violence/intimidation they have endured over the flag issue, I think he has a point.

    Perhaps submissions to the PC may not change much but Alliance should have made one and followed the correct process. It does look a bit silly to speak out against this demonstration and not have formally lodged a submission against it.

    I can’t say that I’m either surprised or disappointed by the SDLP – this is par for the course from them.

    I must concede that I am surprised and a little disappointed by Alliance.

  • Morpheus

    Keano, while it is unacceptable for the big political parties, with the exception of SF, not to send in their objections along with the traders it is not within the remit of the Parades Commission to ban a parade, they can only put restrictions on them which they have done. Granted those restrictions will be flouted but they are the best that the toothless PC can do.

  • Morpheus
  • Comrade Stalin

    keano10,

    The raw nerve is my distaste for exaggeration and hyperbole.

    There simply were not enough submissions against the parade to give sufficient leverage to implement a ban.

    The Parades Commission has no authority to ban parades. Only the Secretary of State can ban parades following a representation from the Chief Constable. I am surprised that you do not know this.

    Submissions to the Parades Commission are there to draw its attention to issues they may have to take consideration of during their decision making process. They do not place any kind of binding responsibility on it to account for them. I’m also surprised you don’t know this. If the PC had to account for submissions then how would they deal with submissions indicating that the parades were fine, caused no problems, and were a legitimate expression of protest ?

    Monk:

    Perhaps submissions to the PC may not change much but Alliance should have made one and followed the correct process.

    “followed the correct process” ? You make it sound as if there is some sort of binding commitment on people to make submissions to the PC.

    It does look a bit silly to speak out against this demonstration and not have formally lodged a submission against it.

    This is ridiculous. The Parades Commission is not a repository for politicians to register their disagreement with a parade like some sort of mast that people are supposed to nail their colours to.

  • gendjinn

    Comrade Stalin,

    I think the objection keano10 is raising (and please correct me if I’m wrong keano) is that Alliance spoke out loud & long in criticizing the republican parade at Castlederg. Didn’t have a word to say about a loyalist parade in one of their own constituencies.

    Now we have another unionist parade that will be quite disruptive for people & business and Alliance are silent.

    Alliance don’t have to make a submission to the Parades Commission to make their position known, unfortunately their position is currently one of silence. If Alliance criticizes the next republican parade they will, in the minds of many, confirm that they are hypocrites and unionists.

    It would seem to me that Alliance’s best move here is to come out strongly against the parade, at least in the press, if not in representations to the chief constable & SoS.

    What do you think?

  • John Ó Néill

    Gendjinn, in fairness to CS, the Alliance didn’t make a written or oral submission to the Parades Commission over Castlederg although the DUP, UUP and TUV did – which highlights their failure to make a submission over the November 30 parade despite their apparent public opposition to it.

    It is also correct that the PC can’t ban, but can only place restrictions. However, based on the recurring precedents, it could have elected to exclude the city centre part of the route (i.e. City Hall to North Street) and confined the parade to the latter section (in the Shankill). This is a regular tool it uses (eg Twaddell, Drumcree). I think greater representations from the political parties might have strengthened its hand in that regard. In that respect, submissions from the Alliance, the SDLP and any unionists who genuinely do feel like challenging the parade organisers (notable ‘new politics’ darlings NI21 don’t appear to be stepping up to the mark either) could well have had an influence on decision-making.

    If there is any trouble from the participants in the parade, I doubt the SDLP, NI21 or Alliance will be slow to jump in front of a camera and condemn it.

  • Morpheus

    If the PC can’t ban a parade maybe they could place a restriction saying that it must start at 7am and be finished by 7.02am. 🙂

  • Comrade Stalin

    I think the objection keano10 is raising (and please correct me if I’m wrong keano) is that Alliance spoke out loud & long in criticizing the republican parade at Castlederg. Didn’t have a word to say about a loyalist parade in one of their own constituencies.

    Everyone (except Sinn Féin) objected to Castlederg. Nobody – including the SDLP or SF to my knowledge – raised serious objections to the UVF parade in East Belfast, ostensibly on the basis that it was commemorating the 1913 organization (although that idea is a little hard to take seriously).

    Now we have another unionist parade that will be quite disruptive for people & business and Alliance are silent.

    All of the political parties including Alliance are united in calling for this parade not to go ahead. (see :

    Please bear in mind that Alliance have been subject to intimidation, petrol bomb attacks and death threats from the same quarter as the organizers of this parade. If you’re suggesting the party has some sort of motivation to let loyalists get away with parading you’re barking up the wrong tree.

    It would seem to me that Alliance’s best move here is to come out strongly against the parade, at least in the press, if not in representations to the chief constable & SoS.

    It is the job of local politicians to sort out the problems with parading. We cannot go running to the British government to ask them to intervene. It’s not a solution.

    John,

    Thanks for that. I would add that your point highlights the problem with submitting things to the Parades Commission. Once you do it once, you have to do it forever and for any controversial parade – if one day your forget then people will draw conclusions from the absence of a submission. I would be surprised if Alliance had ever made a PC submission.

    The PC’s weakness comes not so much from the lack of submissions but from the fact that unionists (and the loyalists parrots) go around complaining that it is a quango with no legitimacy.

    I would also have preferred a heavyweight determination which would have routed the parade past the city centre rather than through it, although I’m not sure this would have helped; routing it over Peter’s Hill and to the Shankill would be disruptive for access to Castlecourt and a lot of the other parking around Smithfield etc. Instead they have apparently gone down the route of imposing strict time limits on when the parade should be completed by, I would guess in the hope of avoiding the afternoon shopping rush.

    If the requirement that the parade be out of the city centre by 12:30 is not met it will be the second time a parade of this nature has broke the determinations. I suspect it will be that which will create the impetus for stronger restrictions next time.

  • gendjinn

    John,

    I know.

    Comrade Stalin,

    I was talking the optics not the nitty gritty. Not interested in attacking Alliance, more interested in engaging on opinions on optimal strategy for them. They keep quiet on this one, they risk giving credence the view they are pro-unionist and anti-nationalist.