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Ruling against Orange arches
26 September, 2002 --
Government officials acted unlawfully when they failed to prosecute an Orange
Order lodge for erecting an Orange arch without proper consent in Glengormley,
on the northern outskirts of Belfast, in June 2001, according to a Belfast
And the ruling, made by Judge Coghlin last Thursday 19 September, means that the
Orange Order will now have to foot a £5 million insurance bill if it wants to
erect arches across the North. The Order will also be required to get an
engineer's report to certify that the structure's are safe.
The arch was erected at Glengormley by the Carnmoney District Orange Lodge on 19
June 2001, three weeks before consent was granted. A local resident, identified
as "D", for his own safety, objected in the High Court.
The resident applied for a judicial review of the decision to allow the arch to
be erected without planning permission.
The respondents were the Department of Regional Development, formerly the
Department of the Environment and the then RUC.
In a reserved judgment on Thursday, Coghlin said the department gave consent on
10 July, following an application by Carnmoney District LOL.
"I am persuaded that both justice and fairness require me to grant a declaration
that the decision by the Department not to prosecute this lodge was unlawful,"
Angela Ritchie, of Madden and Finucane Solicitors, who represented D, also
accused the RUC of "facilitating" the illegal erection of the arch as consent
had not been obtained at that time.
However, the judge rejected this and said the action fell within the
discretionary range open to "police" in relation to operational matters.
Coughlin went on to say that clarification of the law might be of value in the
future - both as a guidance for those charged with the performance of public
duties and an assurance for the public that those duties would be carried out in
a fair and lawful manner.