"All the good that Northern Ireland, and Fermanagh in particular, had out of G8 has simply gone because some people decide that they can't uphold the law." That's according to Parades Commission member Frances Nolan who spoke to The Impartial Reporter this week.

Following its ruling that the Orange Order could not hold a return parade past Ardoyne shops on 12 July, which sparked loyalist riots in North Belfast, the Parades Commission was criticised by the DUP of being "anti-Protestant," with First Minister Peter Robinson calling for its abolition. This caused "professional and personal offence" to the former Superintendent and District Commander of Dungannon and South Tyrone.

Mrs. Nolan grew up in the Clogher Valley and has family links to Fermanagh. She agrees "absolutely" with our newspaper's editorial last week which highlighted the "stark" difference between Twelfth celebrations in Belfast and Ballinamallard and claimed that all communities need "strong, statesman-like leadership." Ms. Nolan comments: "That's what's lacking at the minute; there is no leadership." Rural areas like Fermanagh have led the way in facilitating dialogue between paraders and protesters, according to Mrs. Nolan. "Rural people know how to respect their neighbour and, by-and-large, have spoken to their neighbour and ironed out any problems around parading," she states.

In relation to Newtownbutler, where the Newtownbutler Border Defender's parade remains a contentious issue, Mrs. Nolan commends "both parader and protester [who] have sat down together and talked about the issue." "There has been a great deal of dialogue and I believe that dialogue has reached a fair accommodation at this minute. There probably is room for further dialogue but at the moment, dialogue has worked for them," she states.

In relation to 'anti-Protestant' claims, she highlights the fact that Newtownbutler "is one of the areas where we allowed a church parade to go to church and to return from church to the Orange Hall and that's the first time that's happened in 15 years." For a woman who was "brought up in Presbyterianism" she wonders: "What is anti-Protestant about asking somebody to respect the House of God?," adding: "On many occasions we've ruled that bands play a single drum beat or a hymn going past a church or chapel." She has been to many rural parades throughout her life where "people show respect for each other" by playing a single drum beat or a hymn, claiming: "It doesn't dilute their principles in any way." Mrs. Nolan continues: "To be quite honest with you, the first time I went to Belfast and saw a parade, I was horrified, embarrassed and ashamed." Good work in areas such as Londonderry is at risk of being "de-railed", Mrs. Nolan warns. "The potential derailment of good work and accommodations that have been made is something the Orange Order has to consider. Accommodations come firstly from dialogue and then trust." She wants the Belfast Orange Order to ask themselves "if the pictures that are shown across the country, never mind across the world, could they de-stabilise the accommodation that has been reached?" In addition, rural Orange Orders have to ask themselves "if they should be telling Belfast to uphold the values of the the Order." What the Belfast Orange Order are doing at the minute "is reflecting on everybody, right across the province." Mrs. Nolan adds: "We had Northern Ireland, and Fermanagh, shown in such a positive light after G8 and people now see nothing but attacks on police and nights of rioting on their televisions." She continues: "Politicians in the country need to understand that the responsibility for parades decisions have been delegated to the Parades Commission and nobody has the right to cherry-pick which ones they support and which ones they condemn. The law is the law and it is for everyone with integrity to uphold that law." As a young girl, she remembers attending Twelfth and church parades with her father in the Clogher Valley area. It was a day for dressing in her Sunday best and having fun with family and friends. "There was a pleasant atmosphere," she recalls. "There was no disrespect of our Catholic neighbours, in fact, our Catholic neighbours would help out on that day because my father was a farmer and the farming had to go on. We came home at the end of the day without having disrespected or insulted anyone and going out in the morning there was never any intention to insult or disrespect anyone.

"I still see those values and principles held across the rural areas. We've seen very respectable, very respectful parades in the countryside. Unfortunately, their good name is being tarnished because of the actions of a few in Belfast." The former police officer is "horrified" that the core Orange Order principals that her father lived by (i.e. being Christ-based and church centred) are being "completely destroyed." When asked if she ever comes disillusioned, Mrs. Nolan replies: "There are times of despair, times when you feel that nothing's moved on; that it's groundhog day. But you also have to look at all the areas where there has been accommodation and movement. With the arrival of Richard Hass - and I wish him luck in everything he does - there's hope that he can bring fresh eyes to it and that something will move on." If that means the end of the Parades Commission, "that's fine." Mrs. Nolan explains that the Parades Commission aspires to "local dialogue which leads to local accommodation," meaning there would be no need for it to intervene.

For now, she believes, it is up to rural areas to continue to show a good example to Belfast, concluding: "Simply by talking and listening, a lot of problems can be sorted out."