01 December 2005

Make-up of parades body 'unbalanced'

Belfast Telegraph

By Michael McHugh and Chris Thornton
01 December 2005

The appointment of two Portadown Orangemen to the Parades Commission leaves the marching body "very unbalanced", Garvaghy Road residents' spokesman Brendan MacCionnaith said today.

Nationalists expressed concerns today about the commission's new line-up, which includes David Burrows, the former leader of the Drumcree protest lodge, and senior fireman Donald MacKay, a member of the Portadown ex-servicemen's lodge.

But new chairman, Roger Poole, said in his first interview that he was "delighted" to welcome the Orangemen on to the commission. He said he hoped it would lead to talks with the Orange Order.

The Order and two other marching organisations said they were interested to see the new line-up but said the commission remains "fundamentally flawed".

Mr MacCionnaith said he fears that the commission has "carte blanche" to change the approach to ruling on marches.

"We have David Burrows and we have two people who are closely associated with the policing partnerships and no representation whatsoever from any of the nationalist or republican communities directly affected by the marching issue," said the residents' leader, who is also a Sinn Fein policy worker.

"So clearly there's an imbalance in this.

"This whole process is overseen by the people within the security, policy and policing division within the NIO and we have to ask if those securocrats who have been playing games with the political process are at their work again.

"One view is that the Secretary of State has given this new commission carte blanche to do away with all the existing procedures that have been in place."

Sinn Fein and the SDLP also expressed concerns about the line-up. Former SDLP MP, Dr Joe Hendron, is the main nationalist voice on the new commission.

In their statement, the Orange Order and other marching organisations said they plan to engage with the Government "and other stakeholders" in the New Year.

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