US concern at Orange parade past Strand

By Francesca Ryan

AN American legal rights organisation has called on the Parades Commission to detail its plan of action following the breach of its determination on a parade that passed the Short Strand.

The Commission had ruled that on July 12, loyalist bands were limited to the playing of hymns while passing St Matthew’s Church on the Newtownards Road. But on both on the outbound march in the morning and the return march that evening, the vast majority of the bands played prohibited provocative tunes, including The Sash, in clear violation of the Commission’s determinations.

The influential US-based group The Brehon Law Society has since written to the Parades Commission on two occasions. The 500-strong Society, comprised of Stateside judges, lawyers, law students and their friends, is asking what action the Commission plans to take to deal with the breach.

“As a legal arm of the lawfully instituted government of Northern Ireland, your determinations bear the force of law,” the Society’s Nassau County Past President Stephen M. McCabe wrote in a letter to the Commission.

“The willful violations of your determinations undermine and erode the foundations of good and sound government which is a government where law and order are respected.

“Can you, therefore, advise the undersigned of the steps that will be taken against those bands and other marching units that clearly violated the determinations and what will be done in the future to prevent a recurrence of these sorry events?”

We contacted the Parades Commission and asked why they had not yet responded to the correspondence from America and echoed the question regarding their plans to deal with the breach.

“The Commission has no record of having received an earlier correspondence from the Brehon Law Society dated 2 August 2011,” said a spokesman.  “However, we have received a letter this week and a reply will issue in the coming days.

“The Commission has written to the parade organiser outlining what we regarded as breaches of the Code of Conduct on both the outward and return routes and a breach of the determination by participants and supporters. To date we have had no reply to this letter.”

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