Everyone has the right to organise a parade

Dear Sir, 

I read with some concern the article: “IRA victims’ families want dissident parade banned” (News 24 September)

My concern is not about the substance of the article but with the loose use of language by your journalist Ralph Hewitt. Within the article he states that: “The Parades Commission have received an application for the march,” This is totally incorrect and only adds to the confusion concerning the work of the Commission.

“Application” suggests that you are asking permission to exercise your democratic right to organise a public parade or protest. It is the right of anyone in Northern Ireland to organic a parade or protest. You are required to simply “notify” the Parades Commission of your intention. The Commission will only intervene with that right if there is just cause.

There is the world of difference between ‘application’ and ‘notification’. This kind of loose language should be avoided given the volatile situation which often exists over parades.

Iris Murdoch once said; “People who aren’t writers never describe things exactly.” (The Black Prince)

Yours etc.

Brian Kennaway (Rev)

South Antrim.

Former Member of the Parades Commission.

An edited version of this letter appeared in the Belfast Telegraph on Monday 30 September 2019

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