Euro Law Blow for Orangemen; No Absolute Right to March Says Human Rights Report

The News Letter (Belfast, Northern Ireland), March 30, 2001 | Go to article overview

Euro Law Blow for Orangemen; No Absolute Right to March Says Human Rights Report


Byline: IAN GRAHAM

ORANGEMEN were told today that they do not have an absolute right under European law to parade.

The message came in a Human Rights Commission report which examined the guidance to be drawn from international standards in the parades issue.

The Commission said the conclusion of Parades, Protests and Policing was that the freedom of assembly included the right to parade but that it had to be balanced against the rights and freedom of others.

The report said if nothing else its study had revealed the complexity of the issue.

There were few simple answers and on occasion case law generated by the European Convention on Human Rights ''appears contradictory''.

It added: ''Human rights legislation will not provide easy solutions to political and community relations problems.

"However, human rights legislation should make a contribution to providing structures within which disputes can be justly resolved.''

The report came ahead of the resumption of the Drumcree Orangemen's regular Sunday protest against being blocked from marching down the Garvaghy Road in Portadown, and ahead of the Easter start to the marching season.

Report co-author Dominic Bryan said: ''Unless we develop a toleration of each other's political beliefs there will remain a significant public order problem at many events and this will threaten the rights to freedom of assembly for all communities in Northern Ireland and inevitably make political developments more difficult.''

Leading Orangeman David McNarry said he accepted that human rights would be a part of all aspects of life in Northern Ireland in the future but he questioned the Human Rights Commission's suitability for commenting on parades. …

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