Parades Body Is Facing Big Changes Report - Report; Politicians Clash as Review Calls for the Creation of Two New Organisations to Deal with Mediation and Decisions on Disputed Marches
Byline: GARY KELLY and GEMMA MURRAY
NORTHERN Ireland's controversial Parades Commission is facing a major overhaul. A new review has recommended the creation of two new organisations, one specialising in mediation and the second deciding on disputed marches.
The review was called last year at the request of unionists, who complained that the commission was biased in favour of nationalists protesting against Orange marches.
Nationalists dismissed the review as a cave-in to unionist demands.
The Government yesterday issued former banker Sir George Quigley's 300- page report for public consultation.
Its main recommendation is the establishment of a Parades Facilitation Agency to allow for talks between marchers and protestors.
A separate three-member Rights Panel would be set up to rule on human rights issues.
The Government established the commission to adjudicate on disputed marches in the wake of widespread violence caused by the annual Orange parade at Drumcree in Portadown, Co Armagh.
But since the commission's creation in 1998, the Orange Order has refused to co-operate with it.
Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy said no changes to the present commission would be introduced until the 2004 marching season.
"I intend to allow the period up to the end of January 2003 for public consultation, before coming to a considered view on how best to respond.''
Commission chairman Tony Holland welcomed the publication of the review and encouraged all sides to make their views known.
"We will be drawing on our experience and understanding of the parading issues in responding to the Government and encouraging others who perhaps have been reluctant in the past to make their voices heard,'' he said.
Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble said Sir George had addressed his party's concerns that it was wrong to combine a mediation and adjudication role in one body. …