Short Life Working Group on Facilitating Peaceful Assemblies: report

The Short Life Working Group on Peaceful Processions in Scotland has reviewed processions in Scotland. The report uses the comparison between Northern Ireland and Scotland as a basis to discuss how well the legislative framework and related processes are working in Scotland.

Terms Of Reference

In September 2021 a question was asked at First Minister's Questions in the Scottish Parliament about Scotland adopting a Northern Ireland style Parades Commission by James Dornan MSP. The First Minister responded that the Cabinet Secretary for Justice would give further consideration to this request alongside wider work to maintain the important balance of rights between peaceful procession and freedom of speech and the ability of people to go about their daily lives without feeling unsafe or facing harassment.

In response to this request, the Cabinet Secretary for Justice and Veterans tasked a Short Life Working Group (SLWG) to consider what can be learned from other models used in relation to the regulation of marches and parades and to consider whether any of this learning can be usefully applied in Scotland to improve the regulation of Marches and Parades.

Remit of the Facilitating Peaceful Assemblies in Scotland: Procedures and Best Practices – Short Life Working Group:

To identify whether there are any challenges involved in the running of marches and parades and the notification process in Scotland to achieve the right balance between the human rights of organisers/participants with those communities impacted by these events.

To consider how any challenges (identified) could be addressed, and the practical implications of making any changes, and make recommendations based on these.


  • Professor Dominic Bryan (Chair), Professor at the School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics at Queens University Belfast, with a background in political anthropology; public ritual; public order and policing; ethnicity; nationalism and group identity; Irish history; and Orangeism. He was involved in the development of the Parades Commission in Northern Ireland and has given evidence in subsequent reviews of the Commission.
  • Lorraine Gillies, Chief Executive of the Scottish Community Safety Network - a membership organisation that brings together representatives from across the community safety sector and is the strategic voice for community safety in Scotland. Experience with, and connections to, grassroots communities across Scotland and their representative organisations will ensure that the voices of communities are heard.
  • Graham Boyack, Director of Scottish Mediation, the national body for mediation in Scotland which promotes understanding of the use of the many different types and approaches to mediation and dialogue in conflict management and prevention as well as the ability to reach local agreements and positive outcomes in relation to marches and parades.
  • Dr Michael Hamilton, Associate Professor in Public Protest Law, School of Law, University of East Anglia and previously Associate Professor (2009-12) and Acting Chair of the Human Rights Program (2011-12) at the Legal Studies Department, Central European University, Budapest. He has also contributed to numerous opinions on draft legislation dealing with public assemblies and was appointed by the Northern Ireland Office as human rights advisor to the 'Strategic Review of Parading' from 2007 to 2010.



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