Mediation in Practice - A Case Study of Derry / Londonderry
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Mediation in Practice
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A Report of the Art of Mediation Project
Edited by Grainne Kelly
The Need to Talk - Internationally by Sue Williams
Developing Peace: The South African Experience of the Role of
The Difficult and the Possible - Mediation in Northern Ireland
by Brendan McAllister
The INCORE Research Report by Grainne Kelly and Susan Allen Nan
Mediation and Related Processes in the Context of Parades Disputes
A Sample of Mediatory Roles in Marching Disputes
Case Study 1 - Bellaghy
Case Study 2 - Dunloy
Case Study 3 - Dromore
Case Study 4 - Newtownbutler
Case Study 5 - Derry/Londonderry
Case Study 6 - Ormeau Road
Experiences of Mediation in a variety of international settings and responses
to the INCORE research report.
CASE STUDY 5 - Derry / Londonderry
The main parade of contention in the city is the annual Apprentice
Boys 'Relief of Derry' celebrations, traditionally held on the
Saturday closest to the 12th of August. This is an important day
in the calendar of the Apprentice Boys and as Jarman and Bryan
comment, Coming to Derry for the Relief celebrations has been
likened to a pilgrimage in which walking the walls is the central
act of homage, which reconnects the present day Apprentice Boys
with the defenders of 1689. The day is marked
by two parades, the first comprising the Parent Clubs of the Apprentice
Boys parading in the city. Before 1969 this entailed the clubs
marching the full circuit of the city walls, however, with the
closing of sections of the walls for security reasons in 1970,
the order began parading within, rather than on the walls.
The Apprentice Boys have always applied to walk the full circuit
of the walls. Between 1970 and 1994 permission was refused as
the walls were closed off. In 1995, the circuit
of the walls was officially re-opened as a tourist attraction.
Therefore, when applying to walk the walls the Apprentice Boys
were not displaying a change of tactic, but merely continuing
a long-standing practice of marching the walls of Derry. Later
the same day, the full membership of the organisation parade from
the Waterside to the Diamond in the centre of the city, before
re-crossing the river and returning to their own homes, towns
Disputed Parades and Mediatory Efforts
The day before the parade was intended to take place members of the BRG occupied sections of the walls and, throughout the night, attempts were made to come to an accommodation about the parade. Although it was reported that the Apprentice Boys offered some concessions that they would impose on their parade, these did not prove sufficient to end the protest which lasted into the following day. By the next morning the situation was extremely tense and the security presence was very high. The RUC presented some options and concessions to the protesters which were deemed unacceptable. Shortly after 9am the RUC moved in on the protesters and removed them physically from the walls. The Apprentice Boys paraded the full circuit of the walls and on to their church service in the Cathedral, where the nationalist protesters, surrounded by RUC officers, stood outside in silent protest.
The second part of the day saw the main parade leave the Waterside
in the afternoon. However, trouble erupted when a band which was
accompanying the parade began to play loudly at a group of nationalists.
Missiles were thrown from both sides. When the RUC moved in to
clear the Diamond area of the city they too were attacked with
missiles and petrol bombs. Rioting ensued for a number of hours
causing tens of thousands of pounds of damage.
In the lead-up to the march the BRG sought meetings with the Apprentice Boys to discuss the route of the parade. A strong argument was being put forward by members of the nationalist community in the city that the Apprentice Boys parade be confined to the east bank of the city altogether, and thus their route should be halted at the Craigavon bridge. It was reported around this time that, in a new tactic, the group has joined with residents of the lower. Ormeau and Garvaghy Road in seeking 'immediate and meaningful negotiations' with. the Apprentice Boys, the Orange Order and the Black Preceptory. In a joint statement, the residents group expressed the hope that such negotiations would lead to a universal agreement covering all contentions marches. During July and August the BRG organised a total of 7 marches and rallies to protest against what they saw as unequal treatment and second-class citizenship for nationalists.
Progress appeared to be made as representatives of the Apprentice Boys and the BRG met on July 26th, under the chairmanship of the local NIP, John Hume. The initiative to hold meetings came from members of the Ulster Community Action Network, Londonderry (UCAN). Following a meeting of community leaders from the Londonderry area, David Nicholl of the Network said he felt compelled to somehow relay what we had heard to those who would be involved in the dispute that lay ahead and so approached members of the Holywell Trust, a community organisation based in the city, in an effort to move the situation along. Mr Nicholl, although facing some opposition from members of his own community, wished to hold a meeting with the Bogside Residents Group, which they did. Following a meeting between Donncha Mac Niallais and Charles Lamberton of the BRG and David Nicholl and Lexie McFetters of UCAN, members of the Apprentice Boys and Mr Hume were contacted in an effort to set up a meeting with the two sides.
After further discussions the Holywell Trust offices were chosen as the venue for the first face-to-face meeting between the representatives of the BRG and Apprentice Boys, chaired by John Hume. The discussions were described as intensive but constructive and although no accommodation was reached, both sides did agree to consider each others proposals before meeting again. This encounter was particularly significant given the presence of Donncha Mac Niallais who the Apprentice Boys had previously insisted they would not speak to. However, local DUP councillor and Apprentice Boy William Hay said the loyalist body had no difficulty meeting and talking to Mr Mac Niallais as an ordinary citizen of the Bogside. Donncha Mac Niallais, for his part, said that the meeting offered us the opportunity to consider our respective positions, acid the BRG outlined the 6 principles which we believed can create the basis for agreement. These principles involved the issue of consent, something which would prove to be a sticking point in the discussions.
The BRG and the Apprentice Boys met for a second time on the 31st of July. The venue for the meeting was changed to the Guildhall as it was felt that the Holywell Trust venue had been compromised by media involvement. Again, this meeting was described as constructive and positive by John Hume. Although no resolution was reached, each side made a commitment to return to their members to discuss the possibility of coming to an agreement. However, it became clear that problems were beginning to arise. The Apprentice Boys accused the BRG of demanding things they knew they could not deliver on such as demanding that the RUC play no part in policing the event, suggesting that the parade be policed by stewards supplied by the Apprentice Boys and the residents of the Bogside. The Apprentice Boys felt this decision was not theirs to make and was a matter for the RUC. However, both sides handed over their own set of proposals which were taken away for discussion with the respective members. It emerged that the BRG could see no accommodation in Derry unless the Apprentice Boys accepted that they would not be parading in other nationalist areas - such as the Lower Ormeau and Bellaghy, without the consent of the residents. With two weeks to go until the 10th of August there had been no dialogue between the local Apprentice Boys and the residents in these communities.
Another meeting was held on the 5th of August, (again at a different venue in the city, in an attempt to avoid media intrusion) where the proposals which had been exchanged between the residents and the Apprentice Boys were discussed. The Apprentice Boys proposals read:
Accommodation Suggested by the Apprentice Boys of Derry Association, to Reach Agreement with the Londonderry Community for the 307th Anniversary of the Relief of Londonderry on 10th August 1996
1. Pre 1970 Parent and Branch Clubs were marshalled on the Walls prior to Parading. Apprentice Boys now accept, because of security, this is not feasible.
The BRG submitted their discussion document, which read:
Discussion document submitted by the Bogside Residents' Group (without prejudice) to the Apprentice Boys' Association.
The Bogside Residents' Group submits this discussion document for consideration, and as a basis for negotiation to the representatives of the Governing committees of the Apprentice Boys' of Derry and we do so without prejudice to either side.
The purpose of the discussion document is:
The Bogside Residents' Group for its part wishes to state that we seek a genuine accommodation with the Apprentice Boys' Association with regard to what are perceived by nationalists as contentious parades. We seek an accommodation which will genuinely meet the concerns of all parties and which will begin a process of building agreements which will allow everyone in our society to celebrate their culture as well as to pursue their political objectives legitimately.
The Bogside Residents' Group for its part sees these discussions and negotiations as the beginning of a process. This process must start from the realities created by the Drumcree stand-off and the forced Orange parades through the Garvaghy Road and Lower Onneau Road and the anger, bitterness and alienation which this has generated amongst nationalists and others towards the Loyal Institutions and the Unionist leadership. The objective of this process must, nevertheless, be to build sufficient trust and agreement to allow the Apprentice Boys' commemorations in Den-y to be occasions feared by no one and appreciated and accepted by the overwhelming majority of the citizens of the city, Unionist and Nationalist. We believe that an agreement between the Bogside Residents' Group and the Apprentice Boys' Association will do much to enhance the quality of life within the city of Derry, to improve community relations and to show the way forward for other groups throughout the North of Ireland.
Specifically the Bogside Residents' Group wishes to state that it is not our intention or desire to drive Unionist/Protestants from the west bank of the city or from the city in general. We positively welcome and support diversity and wish to live in a city which is shared and valued by all its citizens. We believe family that accommodation between the Apprentice Boys' Association and the Bogside Residents' Group will send the clearest possible signal to all that we want to live in a shared city in which those who are of a Unionist and Protestant persuasion will feel as at home, comfortable and at case as those of a Nationalist persuasion.
It is also our belief that if the real concerns of the constituency we represent are addressed by the Apprentice Boys' Association, the annual Apprentice Boys parade in Derry could be a significant occasion for all citizens of the city.
With this in mind we make the following points.
(1) the principle of consentThe meeting at which these position papers were presented ended in stalemate after two hours of face- to-face negotiations. It became apparent that the two sides had become stuck on two key issues - how many Apprentice Boys should walk the walls on Saturday and whether any resolution of the issue should be part of an all-embracing settlement on contentious parades in general.
Draft text of (proposed) joint statement by the Apprentice Boys' of Derry Association and the Bogside Residents' Group.
1. This is an agreed statement issued on behalf of the Apprentice Boys' of Derry Association and the Bogside Residents Group concerning the Apprentice Boys' Annual Commemoration on Saturday, 10th August 1996.The two groups did meet for a fourth time on the 6th of August. However, this proved to be the last meeting the two sides had together as the negotiations collapsed. The governor of the Apprentice Boys said it was impossible to reach an agreement with the BRG as they kept 'changing the goalposts.' The Apprentice Boys remained adamant that they would walk the full circuit of the walls and through the city centre. With both sides deadlocked, the decision on whether the Apprentice Boys would walk the walls was placed firmly with the RUC. On Wednesday August 7, the Northern Secretary Sir Patrick Mayhew, on the advice of the Chief Constable Sir Hugh Annesely, took the decision to prohibit all parades along the stretch of the city walls which overlooks the Bogside between the 7th and 31st of August and sealed off the section of the walls which overlooks the Bogside in an effort to prevent serious disorder. The decision was met with anger from Apprentice Boys, however, members of the Protestant community appealed to their wider constituency to remain calm.
The parade went ahead on Saturday the 10th. The Apprentice Boys marched in the city, but not on the city walls, without major incident. The Governor of the Apprentice Boys did announce to the gathering of members and supporters that the organisation would march the entire walls at a future date of their own choosing. Rioting broke out in the city later that night as nationalists attacked RUC officers, and although several people were arrested for public order offences the damage was not as extensive as in the previous month. The city breathed a sigh of relief that the day had passed off relatively peacefully. There was however, trouble in other areas, most notably in Dunloy. (See Dunloy case study)
In the aftermath of the parade, however, Alastair Simpson vowed not to renew talks with Derry's BRG until Dontncha Mac Niallais had became less 'dictatorial' Nevertheless, on a positive note he did say that he intended to keep up his contact with other groups and residents of the Bogside as well as John Hume. The Bogside Residents' Group have stated that The Apprentice Boys refusal to talk was churlish and unreasonable. Their. claim that they were 'talking to reasonable people from the Bogside' raises a number of issues - apart from John Hume, who are these people?, do they actually exist? What mandate have they got? And whhat has been the outcome of these deliberations if indeed they happened? Mr Hume said of the process: The dialogue in itself was major. progress. That dialogue was very intense and the fact that the dialogue took place is a major foundation.
In early October, at a specially convened meeting of the Apprentice
Boys general committees it was decided the 'postponed' leg of
the parade would go ahead on October 19th. They notified the RUC
of their intention to parade the entire length of the walk which
they had been unable to do in August. The BRG called on the Apprentice
Boys to meet with them but they refused to enter into discussions
with the group. In protest, the residents planned to hold a counter-demonstration.
However, the Apprentice Boys did march the walls without incident;
and the matter appears to have lain dormant during the winter
The BRG made it clear that they were insisting on direct talks with the Apprentice Boys over the parade issue in August and wished those talks to begin at the earliest date. However, the Apprentice Boys made it equally clear that they would not enter into face-to-face discussions with the BRG, feeling they had been 'fooled' by them the previous year. However, they did indicate that they were keeping lines of communication open with reasonable' eople, including the MP for the area, John Hume. As far as the Orange Order were concerned, leading members of the Londonderry lodge made it clear that they would only meet with the police to discuss their 12th of July parade.
In order to help facilitate dialogue and open discussion to a wider constituency two debates on the issue of parades in Derry were organised by a number of community and reconciliation groups in the city. Invitations were sent to around 80 representatives from the business, church, community and statutory sectors throughout the city for two single identity debates where a number of speakers presented their views from the broadly Protestant/Unionist community and the broadly Catholic/Nationalist community. The attendance at these events, held in the city's Guildhall was good and the debate appeared constructive.
Tensions were raised in the city and widespread rioting occurred in the aftermath of the decision on the 6th of July to force the parade down the Garvaghy Road in Portadown. As a result of the problems which occurred in Derry in 1996 there were widespread fears that some accommodation would have to be reached in the city if these incidents were not to repeat themselves. Recognising the need for the wider community to be involved the Mayor of Derry, SDLP Councillor Martin Bradley (on the suggestion of a number of groups) organised a cross-community meeting, which hoped to include local councillors, voluntary groups, resident groups, representatives of the loyal orders, church leaders and members of the Chambers of Trade and Commerce. Held on the 10th of July, just 2 days before the parade was due to take place in the city, it was of limited success as members of the loyal orders and unionist politicians declined the invitation. Speaking of the meeting the Mayor said My intention was to facilitate dialogue, which could be difficult, but people can channel their feelings and concerns. The meeting did however otter those who attended the opportunity to express their concerns and feelings about the upcoming parades.
No direct discussions were held between any residents groups and the Orange Order over the proposed parade in the city - and up until the 10th of July the Orange Order insisted that it had no intention of changing its plans to walk through the city centre, despite opposition from nationalists. Then, dramatically in the early hours of the 11th of July the Orange Order cancelled their parade in the city, voluntarily re-routing it to Limavady, as they did with three other marches through nationalist areas. All counter-demonstrations against the parade were cancelled (although there were some protests by loyalists at the decision to re-route) and the 12th of July passed off peacefully in the city.
Attention again turned to the Apprentice Boys parade in August. At the end of July the Apprentice Boys Governor, Alastair Simpson, publicly ruled out direct talks with the Bogside Residents Group. The Mayor of Derry made it clear that he was willing to act as an intermediary in the dispute. He held several separate meetings with both sides, throughout the month of July. Again, he invited all interested groups to a meeting in the Guildhall to discuss the August 9th parade. Representatives of the Apprentice Boys declined the invitation and Mr Simpson stated that I don't think a meeting with the Bogside Residents Group wou1d achieve anything, so we have requested a separate meeting with the mayor for later in the week. It appeared that, as in 1996, the main sticking point between the two groups was on the issue of feeder parades on the morning of the main parade in other predominantly nationalist areas in Northern Ireland. The Bogside Residents' Group were insisting that this problem be resolved if a local accommodation were to be reached over the issue. It was expected that the BRG would withdraw their objection to the main parade if nationalists were accommodated in these other areas.
On the 29th of July the Apprentice Boys, in a private meeting with Mayor Bradley and John Hume, put forward proposals for the march indicating that it would address the matter of feeder parades to and from the main march in Londonderry on the 9th of August. The text of the Nine-Point plan offered to the Bogside Residents in 1997 was virually identical to the Apprentice Boys' proposed accommodation of 1996 (see page 52).
The organisation's Secretary, Billy Moore said that this so-called 'nine-point plan', listing the reasons they felt they should be able to walk the walls as well as concessions which could be made in order to facilitate this, represented the best possible chance of a deal and even the BRG would have great difficulty in turning it down. In a meeting that afternoon, again attended by residents groups, community groups, statutory and voluntary bodies and members of the business sector, the Mayor presented the Apprentice Boys nine points to the meeting. The BRG in turn read out their letter which had been sent to the Apprentice Boys stating their position and the concessions that they were willing to make.
To: Mr Alistair Simpson, The Governor,
Proximity-style talks between the BRG and Apprentice Boys began on the 4th of August. The meetings took place in the Guildhall with six members of the BRG in one room and three leading Apprentice Boys in another. The Mayor Martin Bradley, the Rev Roy Magee of the Parades Commission and Ian Young, president of the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce acted as go-betweens. Before the meeting began there had been disagreements when the Apprentice Boys objected to being in the same building as the BRG delegation. However, after a refusal of the BRG to leave the building, the talks got underway. Although both sides agreed the meeting was constructive, no agreement was reached as number of difficulties remained unresolved.
The issue of the feeder parades was still proving to be a sticking point, although Alastair Simpson said, after the meeting, that he would do all in his power to ensure the parade passed off peacefully and stated that Meetings are taking place on the so-called feeder. parades. However, in a surprise announcement on the evening of the 4th of August the RUC declared that 'conditions' would be imposed on three feeder parades (Bellaghy, Dunloy and lower Ormeau) on the morning of the 10th. It was hoped by many that this move by the RUC would ease the impasse which had developed between the Apprentice Boys and the BRG. Later that day the BRG stated that there would be no nationalist protest against the parade and urged nationalists to go about their normal business and maintain calm and discipline during the parade.
The morning of the parade was marked with the staging of a pageant
depicting the last days of the famous Siege of Derry, an initiative
on behalf of the Apprentice Boys in an effort to promote the historical
interests of the organisation in the city. There
was a number of disturbances on the day of the parade, including
a bomb scare, confrontation between loyalist band members and
supporters and nationalists around the Diamond area of the city.
However, these should not be allowed to overshadow the genuine
attempt by both sides to reach an accommodation in the city.
A number of important figures were involved in mediatory behaviour in the city over the past number of years, including; the local MP for the area, the Mayor for the city, members of the Parades Commission, prominent church leaders, members of the Chamber of Commerce as well as members of single-identity and cross community groups in the city. The participation of this wide variety of individuals and groups is encouraging and highlights the importance which has been placed on resolving this dispute in the interests of the city at large. 1997 was significant for the level of organisation and imagination which went into finding ways by which communication between the Apprentice Boys and the Bogside Residents' Group could by facilitated, bearing in mind the difficulties with which they faced in this regard.
It is unfortunate that the events of 1995 led to such bad feeling between the Apprentice Boys and the residents group. However, 'remote' mediation remained a viable alternative. Although, in 1997, the Apprentice Boys would not talk directly to the BRG other avenues of communication remained open and contact was maintained with many groups, including community organisations, local political leaders, the business community and the church, in the knowledge that the Bogside Residents' Group was also in contact with these groups.
Derry has, in the past, been badly affected by events in other
areas. Many nationalists in the city feel an allegiance to their
counterparts in other areas and tensions are raised when they
are perceived to have been treated badly. Although agreement may
be successfully made as a local level, the issue of linkages of
disputes (which we will return to in the challenges section) remains
a significant problem in the city.
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