SNP ministers consider ‘Northern Irish model’ for regulating parades and marches

Scotland could follow the example of Northern Ireland by creating a dedicated commission to oversee parades and marches, it has been announced.

The Scottish Government last year committed to examining whether rallies in public places required tougher regulation following complaints of sectarianism at several events.

Keith Brown, the SNP justice secretary, today announced an independent working group had been set-up to look at various options for how such events are organised.

Glasgow has witnessed a number of high-profile incidents around parades by Protestant Loyal Orders and Irish Republican demonstrations.

These included an attack on a Catholic priest by a follower of an Orange parade in 2018 and violent protests at a Republican march in 2019.

In each of the last five years up to 2020, Glasgow saw between 300 and 400 public processions – most of them by Loyal Orders.

There were less than 20 Republican marches each year.

Members of the new independent panel will consider whether other models used to regulate marches and parades – including the Parades Commission in Northern Ireland – can be adapted and applied to Scotland.

A report of initial findings will be provided 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.”

Professor Dominic Bryan, who will chair the working group, said: “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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