SF comment as parades legislation consultation closes
Commenting as the consultation on the new parades legislation comes to a close, Sinn Féin Assembly member John O’Dowd said that the approach being proposed offered a better way forward on the issue of contentious Orange marches.
Mr O’Dowd said:
“As we have seen in recent days the potential for Orange Order parades through nationalist areas to cause significant trouble is significant. The Parades Commission decision to facilitate the Orange Order in marching through three nationalist areas in North Belfast contributed to this.
“In or view there is a better way to resolving contentious parades. Dialogue and engagement between local residents and the Loyal Orders is central to this. In some areas a resolution to a parading issue may well be the acceptance of an alternative route. Out of thousands of parades only a very small number are contentious.
“This legislation is an attempt to find a better way forward. It is part of the outworking of the Hillsborough Agreement. It is only designed to be about the issue of parades and related protests. Concerns raised by Trade Unions and others that the current Draft legislation may unintentionally infringe on their work can and will be resolved through the next stages of the process.
“The consultation period has provided an opportunity for such concerns to be articulated and for necessary improvements to be made to the legislation. The next stage will be a line by line scrutiny in the OFMdFM committee in the Assembly and several debates and votes in the Assembly chamber.
“I am confident that at the end of the legislative process if all political parties and interested groups approach this matter with a positive and constructive attitude then we will have in place a better framework for dealing with the issue of contentious Orange Order parades.” ENDS