Ceasefire Celebrations: Alas Not For Me

 

By Paul Gallagher

paul gallagher

Victims Campaigner

never again

 

30/8/2014

wheelchair

31st August 1994 should have been a day that we all should have been happy about.  The IRA called a ceasefire that would eventually lead to our ‘peace’.  The killing and bloodshed would be coming to an end.  There would be no more people, like me, put into wheelchairs.

impact

I was not happy that day.  I felt so sad, my stomach churned.  Why could the war not have ended a year sooner?  I would still be walking about.  I would not be sitting watching the news on TV showing the ‘celebrations’ outside Connolly House.  Listening to the cavalcades of black taxis and cars beeping their horns, playing rebel music from the Sinn Fein election megaphones, waving their Tricolours.

challenge

It was a real bittersweet moment for me.  People were outside revelling in the street on the way home from the pub.  The mood was jovial.  You could hear the singing and shouting.  Somebody knocked the front door.  A woman asked to use our toilet on her way home.  She was in good form, a few drinks on her.  She asked us what we thought of the ceasefire.  We quietly responded that it was good news but inside we had mixed feelings.

nightmare

There was an eerie quiet about the ceasefire in our house that day.  None of us really spoke about it.  We were all feeling sorry for ourselves.  We had a right to be.  My family had been held hostage and witnessed UFF gunmen pump a volley of bullets into me just a matter of months ago.  I nearly died in front of them.  Now it seemed that peace had arrived – just a bit too late though.   I went to bed that night and cried myself to sleep.

difficult questions

I am sure that this was a feeling that was felt all over our country.  I am sure that there were people looking at empty seats and at their loved ones in wheelchairs and thinking why could this day not have come sooner.  C’est la vie.

in memory

I look back now and see the two 1994 ceasefires as significant. As things to celebrate.   As seeds of hope in a time of despair.  The ceasefires led to the peace process.  People are walking our streets today may have been dead if the ceasefires had not been called.  That is something to be thankful for.

reakity check ahead

Milestones are there to be marked but I hope that this one and the many historical events that happened here can be commemorated with dignity and respect.  I understand where the joy and celebration came from that August day but people need to think about the legacy of the conflict for those who were bereaved and injured.  There is no celebration in this.

 

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The Role of Religion in a Shared Future

 

By Peter McDowell

Good Relations Officer

ICPP_Logo

21/7/2014

There is no doubt that religion has played an ambiguous role in the Northern Ireland conflict. As David Stevens has noted, ‘Churches tend to reflect people’s fears, reflect community divisions, reflect a community expedience of violence and threat, rather than act as agents of change or transformers of conflict’(Community Relations Council, 2006 p 9).

columbanus

Churches are part of the problem, but can they be part of a solution? Is the existence of different churches (and now other faith communities), largely representing different cultural traditions and espousing different truth claims, necessarily detrimental to a shared society?

The tendency of churches to reflect people’s fears is hardly surprising when one begins to think about what churches actually are. Churches can be seen as institutions, with their own separate existence. Yet they are, at heart, faith communities made up of individual people who are also embedded in the society in which they live. As such, they are as influenced by their history and experience as every other member of society.

challenge

As faith communities churches see it as a key part of their purpose to provide support and comfort to their people in difficult times. Church communities have felt the pain of those who have lost loved ones, who have been injured, or who have suffered in other ways through the Troubles. They have, naturally and rightly, seen this as their responsibility to each other. But the constant danger is that in doing so church communities do simply reflect, and even reinforce, people’s fears and anger.

On the other hand, churches are communities who are committed to a particular understanding of the world, and how individuals and communities should live within it. It is this worldview, with its various nuances in different traditions, that provides churches with resources for the building of a shared society.

prayer

It is this worldview that has moved church communities beyond merely comforting their own members. To quote Steven’s again, ‘without the churches the situation would have been a lot worse; the preaching and living out of non-retaliation, forbearance and forgiveness have had real social consequences’  (Community Relations Council, 2006 p 9).

It is this worldview that has led many to critically reflect on the how their community has acted and responded to the Northern Ireland context. The recent post on this blog by Rev Brian Kennaway, Learning to Live Together: Resolving the Parading Conflict. While on Parade is an example of this in operation.

This worldview also underlies the ongoing provision of so many activities that the churches provide for the wider community: from toddler’s groups, through youth work, to clubs for older people.

our history

Churches and other faith communities exist within the wider society. They are made up of people who inherit the same history and share the same experiences as those around them. Yet their religious views provide them with both a challenge to consider their responses, and with resources to build a shared society.

I have described religious faith as a worldview. Our society is not monochrome, but made up of communities with various worldviews. If it were not so we would not need to talk of a shared society. Religious communities are not the only ones with resources to contribute to a shared society, but, along with others, they do have a role to play.

 

Bibliography

Community Relations Council, 2006. Beyond Sectarianism? The Churches and Ten Years of the Peace Process – Learning From Peace II. Belfast: Community Relations Council.

 

 

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The Moral High Ground

 

SJ Cooper photo

By Councillor Stephen Cooper

TUV

9/7/2014

GFA

Since the Belfast Agreement, the appeasement of Republican violence has been set as the central precedent of the so called peace process.

It is no surprise that the out-workings of that same government policy has resulted in the removal of any morality within the structures built on a foundation of lies and deceit.

The present impasse over parading has its roots entangled within the principle of ‘peace at any price’, exercised by consecutive British administrations in return for a bomb free city of London.

ardoyne

The Orange Order finds itself thrust upon the international stage with an expectant media waiting for its justification and reasoning for protesting against determinations set down by the Parades Commission.

parades commission

That the same quango has favoured the protestors who have blatantly and openly threatened to bring thousands onto the streets if any decisions do not comply with their intolerant insistence of no Orange feet past their enclave, exemplifies the immoral vein running through its decisions and governance in NI.

The moral ground is sitting invitingly, almost pleadingly awaiting the brethren.

Rallying supporters and marchers to protests presents some degree of risk, as there is no guarantee of controlling the large numbers who are inherently aggrieved at their shoddy treatment.

The crux is that many in the PUL community are not merely opposed to being dictated to by the PC, but are opposed to the constant folly of rewarding violence.

If this mantra was to be adopted by the Loyal Orders, it would have a far reaching effect on their enemies’ strategies.

Sinn Fein would have the wind taken out of their sails, as they have used violence to gain power; the SDLP wouldn’t argue against rewarding violence, and the media and wider international audience would view it as reasonable and as noble a position any decent citizen of any country can hold.

the right thing

Unionist politicians, some uneasy at defending a march solely on the basis that it is traditional, could bask in the limelight upon newly acquired moral ground, and espouse their opposition to rewarding violence and proclaim their desire for a new NI, free from terrorism and appeasement.

Protestors could perhaps arrive at rallies with a different agenda, pursuing the stance against rewarding violence, and thus reducing the risk of resorting to rioting, especially if they are protesting against that very action.

The NIO, and upwards to the echelons of the cabinet in Downing St would find it difficult to dismiss such a powerful and comprehensively reasonable objection to the on-going elevation of terrorism and rewarding of criminality at the expense of the law abiding majority.

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Learning to Live Together: Resolving the Parading Conflict. Protesters Responsibilities

 

Having joined the Orange Institution in 1964 and served on the Parades Commission 2011-2013, the Rev.  Brian Kennaway offers his analysis of the parading conflict. A number of groups need to step up to the mark.

 

brian kennaway

By Rev Brian Kennaway

9/7/2014

patricks riot

5. PROTESTERS

Those who wish to protest, like those who parade, have a presumptive right to do so when they notify the Parades Commission. After due consideration, the Commission may place restrictions in terms of numbers or venue of the notified protest.

gerry adams

The recent history of protest is well known in Northern Ireland. Gerry Adams’s speech at a Sinn Féin conference in Athboy, County Meath, in November 1996, was confirmed in a letter to the Irish News on 30 April 2013.

 

In 1996 Sinn Fein covertly set up ‘Newry Coalition Against Sectarian Parades’ of which I   was chairman. This was part of its overall strategy which was replicated throughout the six       counties to confront loyalist parades against the backdrop of the then Drumcree dispute.”

flag proster

It is against this backdrop that those in the Protestant/Unionist community judge all protests against “loyalist” parades. They fail to understand that the policy of Sinn Fein has changed in the light of their ‘equality agenda’ and that they have no control over many of the current Residents Groups.

 

The Law of physics operates in many areas of society not least in protests. An action produces a reaction and we have witnessed recently the growth of ‘loyalist’ protests. There has been a tendency over the years for people and groups in the unionist/loyalist community to ‘ape’ the ‘other side’.  These reactions have not helped to resolve the inherent issues.

hard decisions

Those, from whichever section of the community, who genuinely object to a particular parade, should show some tolerance. We are all confronted in our multicultural society with events which we find uncomfortable. If you are not comfortable with motor bike racing and live on the route of the North West 200, you are required to show some tolerance for a week in favour of those whose passion it is.

 

Protesting has become, in recent years, every bit as much a ritual and tradition as parading. In exercising the right to protest against that which one feels to be offensive care should be taken so as not to give an equal or greater offence by the manner in which the protest is undertaken.

law breakers

Those protesting against parades should do so in a dignified way, and not inflame the situation by making wild allegations about the conduct of a particular parade. Sometimes it is the protesters who breach the determination.

round and round

They should also avoid the procreation of protests. When they do not get their own way by having protests at multiple venues, they give birth to another ‘group’ who then notify for the venues restricted by the Commission. This is to abuse the system.

guy flying

These principles apply to all who wish to exercise their right to protest. However, ‘loyalist’ protesters, who lay claim to be protesting in order to maintain the Union, should recognise that these displays, which often lead to violence against the Crown Forces, do nothing to enhance the Union in the minds of the general public of the United Kingdom. Neither do they cement the Union.

compromise globe

To compromise over issues of protesting, or parading, is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength. The right to protest which we enjoy is a right won at great cost. It should not be taken for granted neither should it be abused.

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Learning to Live Together: Resolving the Parading Conflict. While on Parade

 

Having joined the Orange Institution in 1964 and served on the Parades Commission 2011-2013, the Rev.  Brian Kennaway offers his analysis of the parading conflict. A number of groups need to step up to the mark.

brian kennaway

By Rev Brian Kennaway

 5/7/2014

 flag proster

 4. PARADERS

Parading has a long and noble tradition in Ireland; but it also has the ability to provoke a negative reaction, particularly in Belfast, where areas of conflict in the 1880’s, 1920’s and 1930’s are still areas of conflict today.

parades commission

It was the failure of the Orange Order to deal with widespread conflict over Drumcree which lead to the establishment of the Parades Commission. To put it bluntly, it was the Orange Order which created the Parades Commission.

patricks day

Many in the parading fraternity have not grasped the fundamental fact that the right to Parade is a presumptive right, and the Parades Commission will only intervene if there is a likelihood of civil disorder, a conflict of rights or a negative impact on community relations. Therefore, when notifying a parade organisers should consider a route and conditions which will prevent the Commission from intervening.

holy bible

Those in the parading fraternity, particularly those belonging to an organisation which professes to be “Christ-centred, Bible-based, Church-grounded”, are required to do much more than would be expected of a non-religious body.

 

They must recognise that others have rights as well; the residents through or passed whose districts they parade, the traders whose businesses are affected, and not least the PSNI whose responsibility it is to maintain public order.

journey of thousand miles

As a Christian Minister, I have at times been ashamed by the behaviour of some professedly Christian organisations. The Christian principle is established in Scripture – The interests of others come before the interests of self! “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” (Philippians 2; 3)

law breakers  It is un-Christian to encourage the breaking of the law – the determinations of the Parades Commission have the force of law! “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority” (1 Peter 2:13) It is also un-Christian not to keep your word, “Do not break your oath, but fulfil to the Lord the vows you have made” (Matthew 5:33) The self imposed template issued on 11 June 2013 by the Orange and Black Institutions was swiftly broken.

 

Parading organisations must take responsibility for the parades which they notify, and ensure the good behaviour of all those who participate. It is behaviour in the public square which must be addressed. It is long past the time to stop playing the game of “whataboutery” and accept responsibility when things go wrong. If no offence is given no offence will be taken.

 

army pension what     Those in the “loyalist” community should desist from making accusations which do not stand up to public scrutiny. When the Parades Commission intervenes, the cry is often – “This is an attack on our culture”. The facts reveal a different story. Over the last ten years there has been a 30% increase in parades from the “loyalist” community and a 3% increase in the twelve months up to March 2013.

riots

Throughout Northern Ireland the traditional parading culture is thriving – but as far as Belfast is concerned we must ask in what form and at what cost? The real threat to the parading culture comes, not from the opposition of republicans, but from the often lawless and offensive public behaviour in Belfast.

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Learning to Live Together: Resolving the Parading Conflict. The Police

Having joined the Orange Institution in 1964 and served on the Parades Commission 2011-2013, the Rev.  Brian Kennaway offers his analysis of the parading conflict. A number of groups need to step up to the mark.

 

brian kennaway

By Rev Brian Kennaway

2/7/2014

psni

3. POLICE

The flag protests which followed the removal of the Union Flag on Belfast City Hall in December 2012, created huge difficulties for the police but these were difficulties already experienced by the PSNI.  The difficulty was, simply put, an operational decision whether or not to stop an illegal parade or let it proceed, gather evidence, and pursue those in breach of the law afterwards.

parades commission

Exactly the same operational decision pertains when there is a breach in the determination of the Parades Commission. If, for example, a band is prohibited from walking, the police have the choice to either physically remove the Band from the parade or gather evidence for future prosecution.

flag proster

The weekly protests, which appeared to take the form of a parade, from East Belfast to the City Hall were not notified to the Parades Commission, and were therefore illegal. The PSNI suggested that it was the responsibility of the Parades Commission to make a determination, when it was obvious to many that the Commission could only act on the basis of the Notification Form. It appeared to many that police intervention was being constrained by very senior officers.

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The wider community clearly expected to see consequences for breaches of the law, but it was not until the end of February 2013 that Jamie Bryson and William Frazer were arrested for their involvement, and the protests at the City Hall were reduced to 150 who were ‘bussed-in’.

twaddell

This failure of the police was recognised by Mr Justice Treacey when he noted: “police facilitated illegal and sometimes violent parades”, and “It is evident that ACC Kerr was labouring under a material misapprehension as to the proper scope of police powers and the legal context in which they were operating.” Although the Chief Constable appealed and won, Sir Declan Morgan said management of unnotified processions was not dealt with by the Parades Commission, but by police using public order powers.

justice

The same principles which apply to illegal parades also apply to the determinations of the Parades Commission. In the light of this judgement, will the police uphold the Parades Commission determinations by either enforcing them on the day or vigorously pursuing the organisers afterwards? In spite of a multitude of breaches of the determinations, no organisers of parades were before the courts until recently, when five members of the Back Institution where found guilty and fined £150 each.

 

The relationship between the PSNI and the Parades Commission must be one of transparent honesty as different parading scenarios are examined.

 

The real test will come in the same area of East Belfast when the return Twelfth parade of Belfast No. 6 District consistently stops in Middlepath Street in breach of the Parades Commission determination.

law breakers

The police should not fear the backlash of a relatively few extremists, but should be confident in the support of the vast majority of the public who are sickened by this annual chaos, and who are looking for robust and swift action against lawbreakers.

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Learning to Live Together: Resolving the Parading Conflict – The Press

 

Having joined the Orange Institution in 1964 and served on the Parades Commission 2011-2013, the Rev.  Brian Kennaway offers his analysis of the parading conflict. A number of groups need to step up to the mark.

 By Rev Brian Kennaway

brian kennaway

29/6/2014

the right thing

2. THE PRESS

One would find it difficult to disagree with Thomas Jefferson’s affirmation that “freedom of the press”, being one of the “principles [which] form the bright constellation which has gone before us”. In many respects a free press is a guardian of any democracy. This is particularly true in Northern Ireland. But a free press should also be a responsible press and should be careful about the language they use. This applies to the print media as well as any electronic or verbal means of communicating.

Over recent years I have observed that media reporting has developed the worst of the tabloid clichés. When it comes to reporting, particularly in the volatile parading situation, great care should be taken. The language should be precise. It is amazing that there are some people who believe every word printed!

flag protest

 

An unknown group calling themselves, “Loyal Peaceful Protestors”, lodged a late notification for a parade on 21 September 2013. Their stated purpose was: “Political Policing Also In Respect Of Legal Flag Protest And Familys [sic] Of Those In Prison And Under House Arrest”. This was followed by other notifications giving the purpose as: “Human Rights Political Policing PSNI Brutality”. Again, in respect of a parade on 11 January 2014, the purpose was: “PSNI Brutality, Loyalist Prisoners, The Flag, Civil Rights, Political Policing”. However throughout this period the media kept making reference to “Flag Protests”, when the emphasis was clearly “Anti-Police”.

 

On many occasions it is the headline writer who fails the test of precise language. In the Belfast Telegraph 16 July 2013 the headline was: “Lodges will face even more bans if they continue to flout rulings”. In the accompanying article Liam Clarke chooses his language more carefully by the use of the word “restrictions”.

 ardoyne

Over the years the press have consistently used the word apply when making reference to a notification for a parade or protest. Not only does this convey the idea that the Parades Commission has much more power than it actually has, but it sends out the wrong message, i.e., that you have to ask permission to exercise your civil right. This is an anathema to Orangemen.

 

The controversy over the Young Conway Volunteers behaviour outside St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church on 12 July 2012 is a prime example of bad communication by the media.

 

bang the head here

It was not just a matter of this band playing – but the fact that they sang the words of “The Famine Song”. The media also overlooked the fact that a public representative for North Belfast, Nigel Dodds, the D.U.P. M.P., whose lodge Ulster Volunteers LOL 1216 engaged this band, stood immediately behind the band watching this behaviour and did not intervene.

 

The wise and precise use of non-emotive language by all those who communicate to wider society would not only present a more holistic picture, but would make a significant contribution to the resolution of contentious parades.

conflict  circles

The press can make a positive contribution by at times saying less rather than more, and by putting the improvement of society before the headlines.

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Catch 22

 

“They muddy the water, to make it seem deep”. Friedrich Nietzsche 

 

SJ Cooper phototuv

Cllr. Stephen Cooper
Traditional Unionist Voice
Comber

27/6/2014

king billy

Parading in NI has become a contentious issue, thanks to the deliberate setting up of resident groups by Sinn Fein in the nineties. Intentional as it is, the continuing friction through each and every summer is a key component of the Sinn Fein strategy to harness the resentment inherent in republican areas to maintain their core electoral support and appear to be standing up to ‘them uns.’

parades commission

The refusal to countenance any sort of compromise from their quarters, exacerbates relations further between the residents of Ardoyne and the wider CNR community, and the bands and loyal orders who live alongside, despite the fact that the latter have taken the Parades Commissions deliberations on the chin and complied with decisions made by this unelected and discredited body.

patricks day

To place this in context, it is important to understand the perpetual onslaught against my community from the same quarter who are hell bent on opposing dignified and respectful processions with no prospect of tolerance or indeed fulfilling their promises of creating shared space. It sets a very dangerous precedent that the main arterial route which runs past, not through Ardoyne, is subject to control and influence by violent protestors who resort to opening up with automatic gunfire on Police lines to get their way, and is presently accepted as an appropriate benchmark to measure the validity of any application from the loyal orders.

This plainly infers that NI is perilously sinking further into the morass of terrorist dictatorship.
patricks riot
Republican representatives have appeared on tv in recent weeks and have stated clearly that if parades are permitted to pass somewhere where republicans don’t approve of, they will bring thousands onto the streets.
This inherent threat is a backward step and a terrible example of the bitterness and intolerance within their community, and provides an accurate measure of the hatred simmering within their ranks to anything outside their preferred way of life.

My community have been subjected to a cowardly and dastardly campaign for decades from those within the CNR community who have steadfastly refused to accept the democratic wishes of the majority of people in NI and who instead resorted to their infamous and regrettable ballot box and armalite policy.

GFA

The Belfast Agreement, foisted upon a weary Unionist electorate, with excessive propaganda and emotional blackmail utilised to maximise the promise of ‘peace in our time’ has failed miserably, due to the sectarian nature of the carve up of the underlying legislation which underpinned the accord.

Of course, it is imperative that there is cognisance of the fact that the BA is not a resolution, it is simply a transitional phase demanded by Sinn Fein in return for an all-Ireland dynamic built into the minutiae of the Assembly structures and overreaching cross border bodies and associated strata of governance, in return for a bomb free London and an end to economic damage through their futile campaign.

At present the threat of that same violence still evidently brings results.

This is not the example I want for the next generation, nor is it positive that the commanders of Sinn Fein sit in government of the place they want to destroy, coupled with the youth of today looking up to the criminals who wreaked havoc and brought destruction to our cities and towns throughout NI, and killed thousands in the process.

Learning to respect each others identity is crucial to creating some sense of a normal society, superficial as it may be.

respect

My community are expected to tolerate the sight of foreign tricolours on Paddy’s day, the GAA having stadiums, trophies and even clubs named after republican terrorists, and we don’t bring thousands onto the street because we are offended.

The catch 22 situation we find ourselves in is down to the reason I outlined at the outset, namely that Sinn Fein need this disruption to retain the electoral support they regrettably attract. There is not a chance of republicans conceding anything anywhere, as their leadership cannot and will not even consider any softening of their entrenched position, nor are they capable of reaching out their hands, bloodied as they are, to their Unionist and law abiding neighbours.

Until such times that we can break down the barriers built up by Sinn Fein, an organisation who has the destruction of NI as its core objective, then there really is no chance of a shared future.

gerry adams

How can my community believe the lying cowards of Sinn Fein after their past and present behaviour? How can I advocate to my electorate a policy of building a NI in tandem with individuals who want to destroy our country? How can I agree to trust terrorists who have yet to even apologise for the thousands of murders? How can anyone take seriously the claims from their president that he was never in the IRA?

In short, republicans have a lot to do to convince myself and my electorate that they are genuine, as they exhibit only negativity and constantly resort to their slanted and untrue narrative of the violence they were predominately responsible for, without any thought for the victims and those who are still suffering from their mass genocide.

Until we have law and order re-instated in NI, then society will forever be influenced and controlled by those who can threaten the highest level of violence.

decide

Is this really the shared future we want for the next generation?
 

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Learning to Live Together: Resolving the Parading Conflict

 

Today begins our mini-series on parading. It is our intention to host as many mature posts as possible over the coming weeks and to assist in whatever way we can to facilitate a greater understanding. To this end we will be featuring a series of articles from The Rev Brian Kennaway who has just finished a period on the Parades Commission. In the coming days we will hear from other prominent people involved in parades. We would ask you to engage in the debate in whatever way you feel comfortable.

                                   The editors

brian kennaway

By Rev Brian Kennaway

25/6/2014 

ardoyne 

Having joined the Orange Institution in 1964 and served on the Parades Commission 2011-2013, the Rev.  Brian Kennaway offers his analysis of the parading conflict. A number of groups need to step up to the mark.

 ballot box

1. POLITICIANS

Politics in Northern Ireland does not reflect any real understanding of what it means to be a political representative in a democratic society. When any politician is elected to represent a particular parliamentary constituency they are to represent the totality of that constituency, not a sectional interest within it.

If this principle of democracy were acted upon there may well be some hope of resolving local issues in areas of conflict. This is particularly true of North Belfast where as yet, local politicians have been either unwilling or unable to resolve local issues.

stormont-building-irland

The conflict over parading and protesting is fundamentally a societal issue and therefore one for politicians to resolve. It is not a matter solely for the Parades Commission or indeed the Police, both of whom are only holding the ground until such times as political representatives can reflect the desire of wider society in Northern Ireland, and come to an agreement on parading and protesting. The Parades Commission only exists because of the failure of politicians to address the situation.

listening

It may well be of some help, in the meantime, for local Politicians to acquaint themselves with the rules under which the Parades Commission operate. During my term on the Commission I have been embarrassed by the total lack of understanding of the rules by political representatives and party spokespersons.

Following the violent conflict of 12 July 2013 the Northern Ireland Assembly tabled a motion in which they made reference to, “the application by the three Ligoniel Lodges”. Parading is a civil right and the prescribed Form is a notification not an application. You notify to exercise a civil right you do not apply.

parades commission

The Commission operates from the basis of the fundamental right to parade and protest. However, the right to parade or protest is a presumptive right, not an absolute right. This is acknowledged by the Grand Orange Lodge; “absolute freedom of assembly could lead to chaos and anarchy and there must be checks on it”. Senior Orange Grand Chaplin Canon Long affirmed: “The refusal to accept any restriction on Orange Order marches is not sustainable. . .” In 1998 the Presbyterian Church in Ireland passed a resolution; “The issue about parades and protests has to do with conflict between two groups of people holding to two sets of rights, neither one of which is absolute.”

Only a small percentage of the 3,000 parades in any given year associated with the “loyalist community”, have restrictions placed upon them. Most of these restrictions are music restrictions. The Parades Commission does not “ban” any parade as they have no legal right to do so.

failed you have

If our politicians availed themselves of the opportunity to understand the work of the Parades Commission and did not use inflammatory language about its decisions, or seek to pander to their own narrow sectional interest, there may be a real possibility of resolving these societal issues. Politicians should not fear losing some of their more extreme supporters as public surveys on this issue have constantly revealed that they are out of touch with popular opinion.

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…….……Or Send My Pension to Carnmoney Cemetery !!!!!

 

paul gallagher

By Paul Gallagher

Victims Campaigner

22/6/2014

wave

One place where I have seen people ‘learning to live together’ has been in the Wave Injured Group.  This self-help group, part of the Wave Trauma Centre, is made up of individuals who have a defining commonality; they have all been injured during the conflict.  These individuals stem from diverse backgrounds, women, men, Catholic, Protestant, working class, middle class.  Some carry physical wounds, some are psychologically injured.

victims

However with all that has been inflicted upon these people they have learned to live together.  They are survivors.  They understand what happened here over the years.  They grasp the context.  Their injuries vary.  Those who inflicted these injuries vary.  Their injuries are with them every day.  They live in pain.  Pain concentrates the mind.  It provides focus.  We have learned from the pain.  Pain is our teacher.  For many there is no rhyme or reason as to why this happened to them.  Many are philosophical about it.  Others are angry.  Nevertheless in my experience they are resolved to do all they can to prevent the conflict reoccurring.  No more pain.  They have also dedicated their time to ensure that society does all it can to help repair the damage done to people like themselves, not just their colleagues in the group but injured people everywhere.

stormont-building-irland

The Injured Group have been lobbying our politicians for the past few years on the issue of a pension for people with serious injuries and for their carer’s.  Many of these injured people have spent a lifetime on state benefits; the derisory pittance that was their compensation has evaporated.  There were no disability discrimination safeguards in place during the 1970s, when most people were injured, so they became economically inactive; left on the scrapheap.  They have surpassed all expectations and survived the predicted prognosis of hard lives and early deaths.  They now face their later years with fear and trepidation; facing an autumn and winter of poverty and indignity.  They have suffered enough.

promise

We feel that we have convinced our politicians that this is something that they could and should deliver; they were unequivocal that this was a noble endeavour.  We demonstrated that such pensions were the norm in many countries around the world where citizens have been injured by political conflict such as Spain and Italy.  We were asked to provide evidence as to how such a pension would look.  We did this.  The Commission for Victims and Survivors has taken our research and added to it with the guidance of lawyers, actuaries and accountants.

cemetery

We feel that now is the time to get this over the line.  We need delivery now.  This is a pension pot that will diminish over time as we die.  Some of our colleagues may never see this pension.  Others have already died waiting.  Don’t delay or the cheques may as well be sent to Carnmoney cemetery.

One obstacle that has been put in front of us has been that of eligibility; who would get this pension and who would not?  This is a question for our politicians to agree upon.  They must agree and they must compromise.  It should not be put upon victims like ourselves to define victimhood.  The definition of a victim, although contested, is set in statute.

compromise globe

 

What I do know is that the people in the Wave Injured Group are eligible.  Those who had their limbs ripped from their bodies by bombs are eligible.  Those blinded and disfigured are eligible.  Those left paralysed by burning lead are eligible.

round and round

 

It would add further hurt to these people if the circular arguments that pervade the discourse surrounding victimhood were to prevent or further delay provision of reparations.  Our politicians need to agree upon this now.  They need to take heed and learn from the people I know in the Wave Injured Group.  If people like us can live together then anyone can live together.

 

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