The Parades Commission is an independent, quasi-judicial body established under the Public Processions (Northern Ireland) Act 1998. All organisations and individuals seeking to hold a parade in Northern Ireland must apply for permission to do so from the Commission. In most cases the parades are allowed without any restrictions, however in the absence of local agreement it is required to make determinations on contentious parades. Last year it dealt with over 4,000 parade related applications, of which it made determinations on 146 contentious parades. The Commission is fully independent in the discharge of its functions, and should be seen to be so. It would not be appropriate for me to seek to influence its decisions. However, my officials in the British-Irish Intergovernmental Secretariat in Belfast provide me with regular briefings on the Commission’s determinations and activities which are in the public domain.