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by Kirsteen Paterson
24 March 2022
Northern Ireland-style parades commission to be considered for Scotland

Crowds gather in Glasgow city centre in September 2021

Northern Ireland-style parades commission to be considered for Scotland

Working group seeks "balance" for communities

Experts are to consider the establishment of a Northern Ireland-style body to oversees parades in Scotland, it has been announced.

Justice and Veterans Secretary Keith Brown says a new short-life working group on marches and parades will aim to bring "balance" to the often-contentious issue of the holding of public processions.

The move follows a commitment made in September to examine the issue in the wake of "raised community tensions over sectarian, racist and anti-Catholic incidents", the Scottish Government said.

Two of those involved in the new group - chair Professor Dominic Bryan of Queens University Belfast and Dr Michael Hamilton of the University of East Anglia - have been involved in the Northern Irish Parades Commission.

It can place restrictions on marches and parades found to be contentious and promotes mediation.

The Scottish Government says its new group will consider whether this and other models used to regulate marches and parades can be "adapted and applied to Scotland".

An initial report is expected in the summer.

Brown said: "The right to peacefully march and parade is fundamental to all democracies, but the right to march must be balanced with the rights of communities to go about their business undisturbed.

"We are determined to achieve that balance and are open to considering all options which will help to ensure that such a balance is struck.

"The findings of the expert working group will help us as we make progress on this important issue."

Other members include Lorraine Gillies, chief executive of the Scottish Community Safety Network and Scottish Mediation director Graeme Boyack.

Bryan commented: "We are pleased to have the opportunity to review marches and parades in Scotland and the mechanisms that balance the rights of marchers and the communities impacted by marches."

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