Paddy Lynn, spokesperson for the Workers' Party, stated: "The Draft Public Assemblies, Parades and Protests Bill, published by the First Minister and Deputy First Minister on 20th April is a blatant attack on the citizens' right to free assembly and attempts to negate one of the signal victories of the Northern ireland Civil Rights Campaign".
"One of the most basic civil rights in a democratic society is the right to free assembly and peaceful public protest.The Bill will fatally undermine this basic right. If the Bill becomes law, all gatherings involving 50 or more people and which take place in any 'public space' will be required to give 37 days prior notice. If some other country introduced such legislation we can be sure that the great and the good in Westminster would be on their high horses in condemnation. If the Bill becomes law it will will affect the rights of every single person to organise themselves collectively as workers, trade unionists, community campaigners and political activists."
"The proposed legislation has been put forward as a means of dealing with contentious parades. This is a cynical, dishonest move designed to encourage the wider population to ignore the proposals. Even those who have looked at the draft legislation have found themselves confronted with 67 pages of confused text designed to hide the reality of what it actually means. Even as a solution to the issue of contentious parades this law will be a failure, as cross-community division can not be magiced away by legislation."
"It is not accidental that the legislation is being proposed now. The Assembly has announced that hundreds of millions of pounds worth of cuts are going to be made to our public sector. This will mean the loss of thousands of jobs, the closure of schools, the reduction of hospital beds, the extension of waiting lists for vital operations, the decimation of community services for the poor, the young and the old, the massive cutting of public transport. It will mean more aggressive attempts to introduce water charges and other charges such as a “bin tax”. It will mean misery for hundreds of thousands of ordinary people. The purpose of the law is a cynical attempt by the two main parties in the Assembly, to thwart any possible opposition to the destruction of the public sector and the sacking of thousands of workers."
"The Workers Party calls on all Assembly parties to stand back and to withdraw this undemocratic Bill. We call on all democrats, all those interested in civil rights and civil liberties to unite to oppose this legislation before it sets Northern Ireland back to the dark days of the 1960s".
Issued: Thursday, 13 May 2010