The News Letter is attempting to stimulate debate around what legislation might be usefully presented at Stormont, with a series of articles entitled ‘Laws We Need’.
There is no doubt that the Parades Commission has become an impediment to dialogue by acting in an arbitrary and inconsistent manner. This may because the Commission is caught between it’s regulatory responsibilities, its inability to understand that it has no ‘public order’ role, and the tendency to accept advice or comment coming directly from politicians (or the NIO) as being of greater importance than the facts before them in a particular and local case.
Republicans and nationalists seem to have very thin skins. This readiness to take offence is almost impossible to address, least of all politically, in a civil society. In Northern Ireland, Republicans have been adept at turning an emotional response to something misunderstood (deliberately or by default) into a political cause. ‘Resident’ groups have regularly claimed the great offence taken at Loyal Order Parades, without any great examination or challenge as to the nature and cause of that offence. There has followed the “right not to be offended”, again almost taken as read.
The summer interview with Shami Chakrabarti of Liberty by the Economist (below) will not have been welcome in Republican Nationalist circles.
Around 12 minutes in, Ms Chakrabarti says: “I would say to people of faith, and to people who are not of faith, that the one right that none of us should ever have is the right not to be offended”.