23 May 2006

Ruling to be challenged

Irelandclick

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usThis week’s ruling on a parade by the Upper Falls Protestant Boys band will be strongly opposed in light of the recent controversy over the unlawful appointment of two Orangemen onto the Parades Commission.
The June 4 parade, which has heightened sectarian tensions in the past, will be discussed at a meeting of the Parades Commission on Wednesday.
But Sinn Féin Councillor Michael Browne said that the appointment of two Orangemen to the commission - an action which was last week deemed unlawful by the High Court - shows that the body is “not best qualified to deal with parade disputes”.
“The Parades Commission has been tarnished by recent developments and the ruling of the High Court suggests that they are not in the best position to be ruling on contested parades.”
Sinn Féin councillors plan to contest any decision to allow the June 4 parade to travel down the Blacks Road, although Cllr Browne conceded that objections are unlikely to be taken on board.
“Unfortunately I expect that Wednesday’s meeting will merely serve to formalise a decision which has already been made.”
Cllr Browne said he believes that neither the Protestant community living in the Suffolk estate, nor the Catholic community living in its vicinity want the parade to go ahead.
“Protestant people don’t want the march because they know it heightens tensions, and for the same reason nationalist parades are re-routed away from that area, to be sensitive to the people who live in the Suffolk estate.
“This was meant to be a one-off parade four years ago. It’s blatantly sectarian and it shouldn’t be happening,” he added.
In 2004, controversial band, Ulster First Flute, attended the parade in paramilitary-style outfits and the day ended in a street fight between two rival bands.
Nationalists in adjoining areas were trapped in their homes for over four hours as up to 30 bands paraded through the small Suffolk estate.
One band strapped a teddy bear wearing a balaclava and holding an automatic rifle to a large bass drum.
Cllr Browne said that recent controversy surrounding the Parades Commission should make it doubly conscientious about breaches of commission rules this year.
At the weekend, Brendán Mac Cionnaith of the Garvaghy Road Residents’ Association said the commission has been “contaminated” by the ruling of the High Court.
“I think what we have now is a completely contaminated commission – starting again from a clean slate would be a good idea.”
Yesterday, the author of a report reviewing the Parades Commission says it needs to be reconstituted.
Sir George Quigley said those directly involved in the parades dispute should not be on the decision-making body.
“My feeling is, and certainly this was the conclusion of my report, that one should not have on the body those who are involved in the parades issue itself.
“You don't get over the difficulty by saying they will not be involved in their own area. I think you simply have got to get people of independence, common-sense, able to analyse the case."

Journalist:: Laura McDaid

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