Monday 4 September 2006

Righteousness, the Order, Parades and the ECHR

This is an article from the Orange Standard which I prepared on the current Grand Lodge position on engagement with the parades commission.

The ECHR (European Convention on Human Rights) is the corner stone of our legal system. It was created in the aftermath of the Second World War, as a safeguard, to avoid the legalised genocide that had taken place and to set a standard of justice in the new European order. From this convention, we get a lower limit on our law, a line in the sand, past which no signatory can cross.

Though our parliament is supreme and no sitting can bind its successors, our political dynamics mean that it is impossible to repeal the Human Rights Act, since to do so, is basically to acknowledge that the country denies its citizens basic human rights.

This is why there is a new impetus in our attentions towards the ECHR which states in article 11:
Freedom of assembly and association

  1. Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.
It is a right, which along with Article 9 (Freedom of thought, conscience and religion) and Article 10 (Freedom of expression), are central to a democratic society. It must be acknowledged that there will be those who do not wish to hear what others have to say, or would rather impose their will on us, but that is why these rights exist. If you were only allowed to assemble, or make a speech if those around you liked what you had to say, there would be no need for a law upholding that right!

That is why the convention is the base from which all the laws which govern us must stem. Every law, every arm of government must adhere to the basic fundamental rights given to us via the ECHR. This is why we condemn the Parades Commission as an Illegal and Immoral Quango.

The Parades Commission was created by an Act of Parliament, which granted it powers which remove from us the basic rights which the rest of the signatories enjoy. There is no halfway house were Human Rights are concerned, they are not a dirty word, or a blurry concept, they are the very basic rights which were hammered out in the late 1940’s to insure that the tyranny of the previous 20 years would never happen again.
The Oranges battle against the Parades Commission is not simply for our benefit, it is for the liberty of all. As the very motto of our Institution states:
“Civil and Religious Liberty for All not Some”
When government forges the first links in this chain, it binds every one of us. The Parades Commission is a body set up for the express purpose of denying our Human Rights without getting the hands of the Government or the Police dirty in the process. It is a vile example of some of the most illiberal laws created by our current government and in addition to being an attack on the very core beliefs of our institution, to which every Orangeman and every citizen must be aware.

The test cases now being taken by the order will be successful because they are in the right, both legally and morally; all that is required is our support. Burkes words are as applicable today as they were 200 years ago:
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing”

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