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Written Statements

Volume 456: debated on Friday 2 February 2007

Written Ministerial Statement

Friday 2 February 2007

Northern Ireland

Strategic Review of Parading (Terms of Reference)

I am pleased to announce today the terms of reference for a Strategic Review of Parading.

The Review will provide the opportunity to take a fresh look at the issue of parading in Northern Ireland, to consider whether there are new and additional approaches, and to offer recommendations that have the potential to lead to a settled cross community view of parading and its role in society.

The terms of reference for this Review were drawn up following wide-ranging discussions with political parties and other stakeholders. The Review will:

investigate, examine and report on the significance and relevance of parading as an expression of faith and culture in Northern Ireland;

investigate, examine and report on the meaning, significance and relevance of parading to broader society in Northern Ireland;

examine why certain parades are considered contentious, what their impact is on wider community relations and if they encourage sectarianism;

consider the impact of parading on NI society in the 21st century in terms of social and economic impact and the international perspective of the country;

drawing on research already conducted, consider how parades, protests and events which take place on the public highway are regulated in other jurisdictions where there are diverse ethnic and cultural populations and traditions;

consider the merits of local dialogue mediation facilitation and arbitration;

make recommendations on how parading can be taken forward in Northern Ireland in a way which is consistent with the shared future objectives of respect, tolerance, responsible citizenship and promoting equality of opportunity and human rights; and

consider what the implications of the review findings are for public policy, including legislation.

To inform the Review's work, the Government will commission research to examine attitudes across Northern Ireland towards parading. Details of the Review Body's membership, structures and approach will be announced later in the year. For the Review to be successful it needs to reflect a balance of views and the Government will be seeking the active participation of representatives from all parts of Northern Ireland Society.

Copies of the terms of reference and the research commissioning note will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses and will be made available on the Northern Ireland Office website (www.nio.gov.uk).