Peaceful summer should be goal for everyone
Chairman issues pre-summer statement
People want to move on from conflict around parades and a peaceful summer could further create the context for progress on contentious parades. That was the message from the Chairman of the Parades Commission as he sounded an optimistic note in his pre-summer statement. The Chairman also recognised the voluntary efforts by many at interfaces to help maintain calm.
In his remarks Peter Osborne said:
“There can be no doubt that the atmosphere around parading is improving. An ever decreasing minority of parades are considered contentious. Where contention still exists it is more important than ever that there is good communication between those parading and those affected by a parade.
“I believe there is now a better understanding, particularly amongst parade organisers, local community and political leaders, about the impact that conflict around parading can have on the lives of the people who parade or who are affected by a parade. And I also believe most of those people - paraders and residents - want to move on from this type of conflict which has bedevilled community relations here for decades.
“Obviously we should not be complacent, but events in the run-up to the main parading season have been well organised and have passed off without major incident. Although regarded as local events, parades can sometimes have a knock-on effect, so the measured and responsible attitude taken to date bodes well for the rest of the summer.
“The Commission continues to promote local dialogue and engagement as a means of reaching accommodation on contentious parades, and we have taken a flexible and innovative approach where required, as demonstrated by the initiative we started in North Belfast led by Lord Alderdice.
“A peaceful summer, where events are celebrated and commemorated with respect, and where there is good communication between local people, would go a long way to further build tolerance and trust between communities and organisations.
"It is also important that we recognise the many hours of voluntary work people put in at interfaces to keep the peace and maintain calm. A lot of this work goes unrecognised. There is an onus on us and others to not just recognise it, but thank those involved for the work they do.”