Another Milestone on the Road to Lasting Peace in Northern Ireland
British Consulate-General, New York, 7/13/2006
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Thousands of parades by Loyal and Ancient Orders are held across Northern Ireland each year during what is known locally as the marching season.
Traditionally running from Easter to the end of August, most parades pass off without incident, however, a small minority are contentious.
Responsibility for making decisions on these contentious parades - where a local accommodation cannot be reach between those wishing to parade and those opposed - has rested with the Parades Commission since 1998.
As a result of the controversy and public disorder which surrounded an annual Orange Order parade from Drumcree church in Portadown in the mid 1990s, the Government commissioned a report into the issue of parades.
The following year the North Report recommended that an independent body should take on the power of determining contested parades. The report led to the Public Processions (Northern Ireland) Act which received Royal Assent in February 1998 and established the Parades Commission.
After Weston Park in 2001, the Government announced its intention to review the operation of the Parades Commission and appointed Sir George Quigley to take forward this review. The Quigley Report was presented to the Secretary of State in November 2002.
The Government believes that the Parades Commission remains the best hope for developing a peaceful resolution of disputes and introduced into Parliament new parading legislation enabling the Commission to make determinations which brings protestors under its remit.
Agreed outcomes that reflect mutual respect for each others' rights, traditions and sensitivities remains the best solution for contentious parades, and the Government has recently completed a public consultation on the most effective way to deliver mediation.