Parades commission 'not necessary' in Scotland, says report

A move to create a Northern Ireland-style parades commission was proposed after arrests at a series of walks in Glasgow.

Scotland doesn’t need parades commission following Orange Order march in Glasgow last year, says report iStock

The creation of a non-partisan parades commission is not necessary in Scotland, a report has found.

The move was proposed in light of accusations of anti-Catholic bigotry at an Orange Order march in Glasgow last year.

Thousands took to the streets of Scotland’s biggest city in September last year, resulting in 14 arrests and reports of “racist and sectarian singing,” according to Police Scotland.

Nicola Sturgeon instructed justice secretary Keith Brown to assess the merits of a non-partisan commission to regulate marches and their routes, similar to a panel set up in Northern Ireland.

But a working group on peaceful assemblies in Scotland said there was “no present need” for such a body.

It concluded improvements would be best handled at a “local as opposed to a national” level.

Cabinet secretary for justice and veterans Keith Brown said: “Marching, parading and protesting is of great importance to many people in Scotland for cultural, community and political reasons.

“The Scottish Government fully recognises this and is committed to freedom of speech and to upholding the human rights of those seeking to participate in such events.

“But in doing this we must also ensure that the rights of those seeking to go about their business undisturbed are also protected. As such, a balance must be struck between protecting the rights of those who seek to march or protest and those of the communities impacted by such events.

“I am very grateful to the Working Group for their dedication and hard work in developing their report and recommendations, as well as to everyone who took the time to speak with group to give their experiences and expertise.

“We will continue to hold meaningful and productive dialogue with march and parade organisers, community representatives, Police Scotland and local authorities to ensure that, collectively, we continue to work towards achieving the correct balance of right for all.”

Chair of the working group, Dominic Bryan, said: “Members of the working group were impressed with much of the work already undertaken by local authorities in sometimes challenging circumstances.

“We believe that our recommendations will offer a sustainable way forward for the facilitation and regulation of processions in Scotland reflecting important human rights considerations.”

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