Northern Ireland

Parades Commission being reappointed

Image caption Members of the Grand Lodge of Ireland rejected the proposals by 37 votes to 32 in July

The process of reappointing the Parades Commission has begun after legislation to replace the body was put on hold, it has emerged.

NI Secretary Owen Paterson is expected to confirm the move later on Tuesday.

In July, the Orange Order rejected the proposed legislation to deal with contentious parades.

DUP leader Peter Robinson said on Monday that the Order's refusal to reconsider its decision meant the Parades Bill had to be delayed.

As a result, the Parades Commission will remain in place for another year.

The draft legislation, which focused on dialogue and a code of conduct for both residents and marchers, emerged following February talks at Hillsborough Castle to resolve a political impasse between the DUP and Sinn Fein.

Mr Robinson said he was "disappointed by the outcome as considerable effort was made at Hillsborough to solve the issues around parades and protests".

The first minister said a "new and improved framework" had been worked out, "based on specifications outlined by the Orange Order".

The proposals contained in the Draft Public Assemblies Bill 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.

Orange Order historian Clifford Smyth said members attending a secret meeting on Saturday felt the proposals were unacceptable.

"The proposals were put on the table, but they couldn't find a single person to second them; that just shows how little support there is within the institution for the present proposals," he said.

"It was felt very strongly the proposals make the situation so much worse than under the Parades Commission."

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