Page last updated at 07:17 GMT, Thursday, 15 April 2010 08:17 UK

Plans for parades body outlined

Whiterock march
A small number of parades continue to be contentious

A draft paper on a new body to deal with contentious parades in NI is expected to be published later.

Rights for marchers and residents will be safeguarded in the proposals.

Under a code of conduct, residents will have the right to live free from sectarian harassment while it will be illegal to block a lawful parade.

Marchers and protesters will be expected to take part in dialogue and a refusal to do so will be taken into account by the new body.

A review of parading formed part of the Hillsborough Agreement.

The DUP and Sinn Fein set up a six-strong group to work on the matter following the deal in January.

Their brief was to propose a new and improved framework to rule on controversial marches, including a focus on local solutions, mediation and adjudication.


Under their plan a new body, to replace the Parades Commission, will be made up of 11 members split into two teams of five and a "substitute."

It is believed members will be appointed by a four-person team from the Office of the First and Deputy First Ministers.

It is expected to begin work in January 2012.

If a five-person team is unable to agree on a particular issue, it will be referred to the full body of 11 with the possibility of a majority vote being accepted.

However, all determinations will have to be transparent with reasons given for any decisions made.

Those applying for a parade or protest will have to show justifiable reason for their course of action and they will have to outline why they want to parade or protest.

Justice Minister David Ford will have the power to bring up the issue of parades and protests with the First and Deputy First Ministers.

Parading is a particularly contentious issue in Northern Ireland.

Nationalist residents in mainly working-class areas like north Belfast and Portadown, County Armagh, oppose Orange Order processions in their areas because they view them as triumphalist.

Members of the loyal orders accuse residents of going out of their way to be offended and maintain it is their traditional right to demonstrate on the streets.

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