Orange Order rates relief: £8.12m. (Twaddell policing costs: £24m, and counting… )

At the NI Assembly on Monday, Christopher Stalford received an answer to an assembly question directed at Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, the Finance Minister, as to the rates relief statistics for Orange Halls. The response tells us that since April 2006, the Orange institution has saved an estimated £8.12 million by being exempt from paying rates. During this time, of course, the DUP used the much criticised ‘Petition of Concern’ mechanism to block a Sínn Fein bill which would have enabled amateur sports clubs (such …

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Brian Kennaway: “[The Grand Master’s speech] achieved one purpose only: it made Gerry Adams sound good”

Brian Kennaway isn’t someone from whom the Orange Order will appreciate advice. On his blog he’s issued a response to Grand Master Edward Stephenson’s statement at Saturday’s Twaddell Avenue rally: … encourage Orange brethren and our supporters to demonstrate their displeasure at the current situation by holding peaceful and legal protests across Northern Ireland, at times and locations of their choosing, over the coming weeks. (Grand Master Edward Stephenson) The former member of the Parades Commission asks: Have the Grand …

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North Belfast Parading – could the DUP/UUP find a positive way out of their current rabbit hole?

As always in Northern Ireland, a row of dominoes have found themselves in a row and are now wobbling. 1. Getting a wide range of people to agree to be appointed to make a credible panel on North Belfast parading and related protests was always going to be an uphill struggle for the Secretary of State. Given the announcement in October with no names, and not a single name – not even a chair – being publicly mooted since them …

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7 NI political hot potatoes for early 2015

1. Expect Mitchel McLaughlin to be finally elected as Speaker of the NI Assembly. If the Welfare Reform Bill passes its Consideration Stage by the end of February (as the financial package requires), will the DUP withdraw their objection and allow Sinn Féin’s Mitchel McLaughlin to be elected as Speaker? They’ll surely not wait until the Bill receives Royal Assent? Mitchel’s elevation will create a vacancy for a Deputy Speaker. Who will the DUP nominate from within their ranks? Realistically …

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Theresa Villiers: “It is in the interests of everyone affected… that a way forward is found towards a local resolution.”

As the BBC’s Mark Devenport reports, the Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers, has proposed that a panel of “experts” be appointed with the objective of mediating “an agreed accommodation between local people in respect of Loyal Order parades in the Twaddell and Ardoyne areas of north Belfast”. The official NIO statement includes the terms of reference, key principles, and the proposed structure of the panel and its timescale. Terms of reference In order to mediate an agreed accommodation between local …

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And then, the marching season was back upon us…

The Parades Commission has given its determination on the latest application by the ‘Ligoniel Combine’ to stage a parade along the section of the route that the Commission has specifically ruled out since 12th July last year. The reaction to this will, to some extent, colour the atmosphere as those summer parades that are usually contentious approach. Significantly, yesterday, First Minister Peter Robinson chose to avoid the debate on racism in the Assembly that his own comments sparked. Instead, he went with a …

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When Brand met the Belfast Orange, or why the comedy of new media helps us unlearn…

There’s an interesting conference at the University of Ulster coming up on the 10th December, which seems to be asking some of the right questions about social media, its uses in protest and the implications for democratic politics. The event blurb notes: Over the course of the last twelve months, Northern Ireland has witnessed social media playing a central role in the nature of politics and protests. The period in the wake of the decision by Belfast City Council to …

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No #Twaddell from Parades Commission

The Parades Commission has given its response to the ‘Twaddell Initiative‘ put forward by Unionists and the Orders. Not only does it say No, but it publicly deconstructs how it was first made aware of proposal by the media and dismissed the grounds for a late application, the failure to abide by its ruling for the 12th July parade and continued breaches of its determinations. It was abundantly plain that that would be the case (although there is still Nigel …

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More #Twaddell: DUP, dupes and duplicity.

The onus is now upon nationalism to show leadership and to respond positively to this genuine attempt to reach accommodation. They must face down the elements in their community who wish to drag Northern Ireland back. So says DUP ‘leader’ Peter Robinson, but presumably not in reference to his party members who were advocating burning tricolours, defacing religious statues, indulging in murder fantasies, okay with assaults on the mayor or happy to be seen at UVF parades. Robinson was actually …

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Even Protestants don’t support parades and protests: #LucidTalk

More figures from LucidTalk in the Belfast Telegraph, this time on Parades. Respondents were asked which statements they agreed most closely with (results given as percentages): If you exclude don’t knows, you get the following results (results given as percentages): And, if pie-charts are your thing, here’s charts for the first three groups excluding don’t knows: … and Protestants (excluding don’t knows)…   … and Catholics (excluding don’t knows)… As to the poll itself, the stats provided state that: Our LucidTalk …

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