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Tuesday, 10 July, 2001, 16:31 GMT 17:31 UK
Orange Order to sue Parades Commission
The Orange parade was stopped at a security barrier
The Order says it will issue legal proceedings
The Orange Order has announced that it has instructed solicitors to start legal proceedings against the Northern Ireland Parades Commission.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Protestant Order said it had taken the decision on the basis that bans and restrictions imposed on a number of Orange parades, in its view, breached the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Parades Commission is headed by Tony Holland and was established in March 1997 to rule on contentious parades in Northern Ireland.

The Order has a policy of not talking to the commission, which it describes as "an unelected quango".

Examining rulings

"We are very much looking forward to the opportunity of engaging with the Parades Commission in court and challenging the legal validity of its decisions," said the Order.

We need to uphold the right of people to be able to walk peaceably down a public road without hindrance

George Patton

Its executive officer, George Patton, said its lawyers were examining closely several recent Parades Commission rulings and would be serving the commission with the necessary legal papers in due course.

"We have always maintained that parades are an integral part of our Ulster Scots heritage and no more contentious than other cultural parades and carnivals held regularly all over the world," he said.

"By denying us the right to peaceful assembly, the Parades Commission is saying in effect that the Ulster Scots are second-class citizens whose traditions count for nothing."

The Orange Order also said they would be launching a covenant for human rights as part of its campaign for a restoration of their "fundamental human rights" on 12 July.

Sign covenant

That date is the biggest day in the Order's marching calendar, when thousands of Orangemen hold parades across Northern Ireland.

It is asking everyone to sign the covenant, irrespective of race, religion or creed.

On Sunday the Orange Order's parade at Drumcree was barred from marching down the mainly nationalist Garvaghy Road in Portadown, for the fourth consecutive year.

During their protest, Orange Order Grand Master Robert Saulters said they had "moved heaven and earth to find a just and peaceful solution".

He said the Order would be launching a worldwide campaign to highlight its human rights.

See also:

08 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
Security forces braced for Drumcree
07 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
Barriers go up around Drumcree
06 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
Appeal for calm over Drumcree
07 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
Reid plays down NI talks hopes
03 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
UDA 'won't start Drumcree violence'
03 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
March mediator's call to paramilitaries
07 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland's marching season
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