Northern Ireland

Party politics behind Orange vote - Mervyn Gibson


A leading Orangeman has blamed party politics for the Orange Order rejection of draft legislation which would have seen the Parades Commission replaced.

The proposals were contained in the Draft Public Assemblies Bill and had been agreed by the DUP and Sinn Fein.

They were rejected by 37 votes to 32 by members of the Grand Lodge of Ireland in July.

Rev Mervyn Gibson said he did not expect the vote against the proposed changes.

"I believe there was internal party politics being played out and it wasn't against the legislation it was against the party who was delivering that legislation," he said.

"The leadership of the Grand Lodge of Ireland were looking for this legislation and sought this legislation over many years.

"I think what has caused this hiccup, shall we say, has been those within the institution who just don't want it because it was delivered by the DUP."

Mr Gibson is an advisor to the joint working group on parades set up following the Hillsborough Agreement.

The draft legislation focused on dialogue and a code of conduct for both residents and marchers. It also spelled the end of the Parades Commission.

However, some aspects have also concerned the police in terms of what would be deemed as a public assembly under the legislation.

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