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6 February 1997 Edition

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British Government bins North

By Eoin O'Broin

Just hours after the findings of the North Commission on Parades and marches in the Six Counties was released the British government shelved its most important recommendations.

Direct Ruler Patrick Mayhew speaking in the British Parliament said the recommendation to remove decision-making powers from the RUC and hand them to an independent commission was ``radical and far reaching''. It would ``not be right for government, without further consultation to reach a decision on so fundamental a proposal''. Mayhew then suggested that he would be seeking ``the views of interested groups on the report's proposal''.

This consultation period may last until the end of March which means that no decision will be taken by the present British government.

Ulster Unionist Jeffrey Donaldson described the North commission as a ``factory of grievances'', and one Orange Order spokesperson made it clear that while ``issues such as the number of people, the time of the march and the type of music played'' were all up for negotiation, irrespective of the commission's findings the Lodges were ``determined to walk''.

Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble criticised the report's findings: ``What truly amazes me is that there is no reference to the IRA and Sinn Fein, and those elements associated with them, that have used these occasions to foment serious public disorder. It is a serious failing in the report that it has failed to consider the basic underlying problem. And does this not undermine to some extent the approach?''.

Meanwhile Gerry Adams questioned the motivation behind the British government's decision to reopen consultation. Speaking to An Phoblacht he speculated; ``is it not the case that Unionism before and after the report was published, had made their opposition to the North commission patently clear. And the British government putting short term political expediency before the interests of people in the Six Counties, capitulated to Unionist pressure and effectively binned the report until after the general election''.
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