Secretary of State slammed for Parades Commission decision

James Brokenshire arrives in Downing Street. Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

James Brokenshire arrives in Downing Street. Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland and the TUV have voiced their disapproval of Secretary of State James Brokenshire’s reappointment of the current Parades Commission.

A lodge spokesperson said: “While the commissioners have over the years made some illogical, stupid and unjust decisions, including rewarding dissident violence; their reappointment amounts to nothing more than rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

“It ignores the wishes of the leadership of unionism, all of whom have stated that the current legislation is not fit for purpose, underscoring that politics has failed the Orange family in respect of creating a level playing field for parading.

“Grand Lodge made it clear, at a recent meeting with the Secretary of State, that the Parades Commission and legislation were now the problem and had no place in any fresh start to parading.

“The recent resolutions to parades were in spite of the Parades Commission, not because of them. Indeed, their existence hindered solutions.”

The Grand Orange spokesperson added: “Sadly, like his predecessors, Mr Brokenshire, was not only unresponsive to what he heard, but has introduced a three-year plan for appointments to the commission, indicating in his plans it is here to stay.

“In a public challenge to the Secretary of State, we would ask him to name one government appointed body in the United Kingdom which is less accountable than the Parades Commission? It is a body, which lacks transparency, and whose decisions cannot be challenged in court.”

TUV leader Jim Allister said NI cannot move forward if the Parades Commission keeps giving in to the threat of violence.

He said: “In relation to every major parading dispute the Commission has chosen to side with objectors and it is obvious that the threat of violence plays a major part in its decisions. Northern Ireland cannot move forward while this remains the case.

“It would seem the commission was intent on aiding republicans in their campaign against the unionist community. Now they have been awarded with reappointment.”

Mr Allister added: “It is important to remember, however, that the primary issue isn’t the membership of the Commission but its existence.

“That said, unionists need to be cautious of those who claim to want an end to the Parades Commission but seem prepared to contemplate a body in which McGuinness would have his placemen.

“Fundamental legislative change is imperative to establish a presumption in favour of traditional routes and parades on main arterial routes, as they are a shared space.”