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07/10/2014

NIO Parade Panel Announced

A panel is to be set up to examine ongoing parading issues in north Belfast, the Northern Ireland Office has announced.

Secretary of State Theresa Villiers made the announcement today following discussions with Northern Ireland's political parties on how to resolve the ongoing dispute.

The issue arose on 12 July 2013 when police upheld a Parades Commission ruling that an Orange Order parade could only pass through a nationalist area of north Belfast once on the day.

The Commission ruled that the parade could take the route along the Crumlin Road on its outward journey, but not on its return.

Following a similar ruling this year, unionist politicians, including First Minister Peter Robinson, along with Orange Order representatives, said they would formulate a "graduated response" to the ruling.
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Today, Ms Villiers said: "Earlier this summer when the Parades Commission for Northern Ireland issued its 12 July determination on the proposed Orange Order return parade in the Ardoyne and Twaddell area of north Belfast, it made a number of important observations.

"The Commission said that the deep-seated issues around parades in the Crumlin Road area need to be addressed by a 'structured, managed, cohesive approach which provides a framework into which whole communities can contribute, have their voice heard and formulate creative responses'. The Commission called for a wider process with sufficient resources to tackle these issues."

The NI Secretary said "nothing would be done which undermined the role or remit of the Parades Commission as the lawful authority for adjudicating contentious parades in Northern Ireland."

But, she added: "Having listened carefully to the views expressed I consider that there is merit in a panel being established to look at this issue. I am making the terms of reference available publicly today, along with a set of principles to underpin this new initiative."

The panel will be chaired by a representative or an academic who can "command trust" and appointments will be made by the Secretary of State in consultation with the NI Executive.

(IT/JP)

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