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Last Updated: Monday, 14 November 2005, 18:21 GMT
Parade consultation plan 'a sham'
Orange march in Glasgow
The issue of marches arouses huge debate in Scotland
Plans to give the public a greater say on the future of contentious parades and marches are a sham, according to local authority body Cosla.

The claim came during an historic meeting between Holyrood's Justice 2 Committee, Irish Republicans and the Orange Order in Glasgow.

Reforms to laws on marches are being examined by the committee.

But Cosla said the move would not give councils new powers to halt parades, even if local communities objected.

Among those appearing were James MacLean of the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland and Jim Slaven of Cairde na h'Eireann (Friends of Ireland).

'No new powers'

Parade reforms were proposed after a review by ex-police chief Sir John Orr.

Senior representatives of Scottish police, councils, unions and football bodies were also addressing the special session being held at Glasgow City Chambers.

The Justice 2 Committee was taking evidence on the Police, Public Order and Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill, which proposes football banning orders as well as changes to the laws relating to public processions.

The Scottish Executive wants to see new laws in place before the 2007 marching season.

Jean McFadden
The consultation will have been seen as a sham
Cllr Jean McFadden
Cosla

As well as a possible "behaviour bond" for organisers, which would be forfeited if marchers caused trouble, measures include more council control.

Local authorities are expected to be given greater freedom to ban marches or impose conditions, and the notification period from organisers would be extended to 28 days from the current seven.

But Cosla spokeswoman Councillor Jean McFadden said councils would have no increased powers, despite seeking the views of local communities.

She told MSPs: "Therefore, the communities having been consulted, find their local authority allowing the march to go ahead, perhaps rerouting it or changing the time, but not significantly reducing the disruption and the consultation will have been seen as a sham."

Consistency call

The executive said it was aiming to find a balance between the right to march and the right of communities to have a say in how, where and when marches take place.

The plans will affect all marches including political demonstrations and local celebrations.

Local councils and police currently have to deal with more than 1,500 parades in Scotland, and in 2003 policing costs amounted to 1.5m.

It is equally important that communities do not attempt to impose a general prohibition on marches
James MacLean
Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland

Representatives from Cairde na h'Eireann and the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland are both concerned that the restriction and regulation of marches be applied consistently, with decisions left to elected representatives.

Mr MacLean, deputy grand master of the Orange Lodge of Scotland, said: "It is important that communities have their say, it is equally important that communities do not attempt to impose a general prohibition on marches that they may not particularly be in sympathy with."

Mr Slaven, national organiser for Cairde na h'Eireann, said he was against a community being allowed to ban a parade.

He added: "I think vetoes and banning marches is not the solution, I think dialogue is a solution and coming to an understanding.

"People have the right to march, but with that right must come responsibilities."


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Orange Order and Republican views on parades



SEE ALSO:
Police criticise parade trouble
13 Jul 05 |  Scotland
Police vow over marching season
29 May 05 |  Scotland
Marches may be banned in Glasgow
23 Feb 05 |  Scotland
Orangemen aim for 'touchy, feely'
19 Jun 04 |  Scotland


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