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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6 Responses to Learning to Live Together: Resolving the Parading Conflict

  1. Gerry Leddy says:

    This is only part 1. dealing with politicians, so we need to wait on the next installments for the other elements to fully grasp what message Rev Brian Kennaway is putting across.

    We could however cut to the chase, and settle one disputed parade in a matter of hours, because of the nature of the man, a ‘Reverend’

    I am referring to the poor men who havent been able to get home and have a bath in their own houses or sleep in their own beds for almost a year now just short of Ardoyne Shops.

    And the sad reality is that the one person who can solve their dilemma,
    is not a politician,
    is not an academic,
    Is not a lawyer,
    Is not a police officer,
    Is not a member of some quango,
    Is not a community support worker,
    Is not a doctor,
    Is not a journalist,
    Is not a celebrity,
    Not a footballer
    Nor a Bandsman

    The one person who could have solved the dilemma of these men 11 months ago, 9 months ago, 3 months ago, when ever

    Is someone who holds the title ‘Reverend’
    and preferably not a career Christian,
    that is one who depends on their ministry
    to feed and clothe them.

    Someone with the zeal of a man on fire for eternal results.
    Someone who uses Jesus Christ as his Breast Plate
    and also as his backbone. Someone who not only knows his Bible,
    But also has daily fellowship, with it’s author.

    The Orange Order for ever and a day, since people in it, have written about it have claimed that its core is three pronged.

    1. Christ Centred
    2. Bible Based
    3. Church Grounded.

    The message Please be true to yourselves. Grasp the moral high ground. Obey the word of God in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Opening the Bible with the brethren and sharing the ‘truth’,

    Romans 13:10
    Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
    We know that the Christ Centred Orange Brethren are not setting out to cause offence or ill will to their catholic neighbour. But the sad reality is that without brotherly ‘equality of equals’ dialogue their presence will cause offence and ill will. Knowing that this is the inevitable outcome, to demand to do so anyway, is to be disobedient to Jesus Christ.

    Romans Chapter 13 is the lesson, All authority comes from God, yes even the authority of the Parades Commission v1, Resisting authority brings damnation v2, claim the moral high ground do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same v3, Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law v8, All the laws of God are equal to or less than this one ‘Love your neighbour as yourself v9, The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light v12, Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying v13, But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ v14, and end of Chapter and lesson.

    W.P Nicholson would be able to get the message Across, But he is with the Lord, C. H. Spurgeon could likewise but he is with the Lord Also. Hedley G Murphy could have got the message across, I know from my own experience but he is also with the Lord. If there not a man of God to proclaim the Gospel of Christ to these poor misguided Brethren, then Rev Brian Kennaway it will be up to you.

    It may take you an hour or half a day but it will be well worth it, and you know it will do heaps more good than writing and trying to analyze the problem.

  2. Peter Breheny says:

    As a Catholic lad growing up in Manchester during the 1950s I was forced to walk in what we called a religious procession once a year. There was a big Southern Irish population in the area where I lived, as children were told the procession was to celebrate our faith for which we should be proud, our fathers were asked by the parish priest (an Irish priest) to wear their service medals to show that we too had played our part in both world wars. Evan as a child I recognised that this parade marked us, my brothers and sisters out as different in our own community; it generated a feeling of us and them on the street where we lived. For weeks afterwards the procession would generate sectarian name calling and bring to the surface all those deeply embedded sectarian clichés causing fights as we took sides with the tribe to which we belonged. The only thing we could all agree on was that the one Jewish family living on the street had crucified Jesus, this united us against them and I still remember with shame how hurt they, also my friends were as they walked home in silence having been rejected by their friends and neighbours.

    As an outsider well-grounded in the history of Northern Ireland, watching the parades each year makes me realize that the parades have no other purpose than to make the other side, YOUR neighbours feel unwanted and unwelcome in their own country. As an act of good will I would like to see YOU give up YOUR annual parades as an act of reconciliation but I know YOU won’t, WILL YOU? Because for some reason YOU still have the need to force feed YOUR neighbour with your own opinion.

  3. Peter Breheny says:

    As a Catholic lad growing up in Manchester during the 1950s I was forced to walk in what we called a religious procession once a year. There was a big Southern Irish population in the area where I lived, as children we were told the procession was to celebrate our faith for which we should be proud, our fathers were asked by the parish priest (an Irish priest) to wear their service medals to show that we too had played our part in both world wars. Evan as a child I recognised that this parade marked us, my brothers and sisters out as different in our own community; it generated a feeling of us and them on the street where we lived. For weeks afterwards the procession would generate sectarian name calling and bring to the surface all those deeply embedded sectarian clichés causing fights as we took sides with the tribe to which we belonged. The only thing we could all agree on was that the one Jewish family living on the street had crucified Jesus, this united us against them and I still remember with shame how hurt they, also my friends were as they walked home in silence having been rejected by their friends and neighbours.

    As an outsider well-grounded in the history of Northern Ireland, watching the parades each year makes me realize that the parades have no other purpose than to make the other side, YOUR neighbours feel unwanted and unwelcome in their own country. As an act of good will I would like to see you give up your annual parades as an act of reconciliation but I know you won’t, will you? Because for some reason you still have the need to force feed your neighbour with your own opinion.

  4. Gerry Leddy says:

    I must commend and thank Rev. Brian Kennaway for his courage and honest comments on this mornings @BBCGMU .

    Thank You Sir.

    That’s a great start.

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