03 December 2005

Rule book out the window

Daily Ireland

Appointment of two Orangemen to new Parades Commission may breach official guidelines

Ciarán Barnes

The appointment of two Orangemen to the new-look Parades Commission may have breached official guidelines, Daily Ireland can reveal.
Nationalist residents groups have asked the Commissioner for Public Appointments to investigate whether David Burrows and Don McKay’s appointments constitute a conflict of interest.
Both are Portadown Orangemen and at a press conference yesterday Mr McKay said he intended taking part in next summer’s disputed Drumcree parade along the town’s nationalist Garvaghy Road.
When appointing the new Parades Commission members, the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) used guidelines laid out by the Commissioner for Public Appointments.
Contained in these guidelines are five main areas which the commissioner believes could lead to a conflict of interest.
These include “a relationship with another organisation that could lead to a split in loyalties” and “membership of some societies”.
With two prominent Orangemen now sitting on a body that decides whether controversial parades should proceed, nationalist residents groups believe there is a clear conflict of interest in Mr Burrows and Mr McKay’s appointments.
In light of this they have called on the commissioner to investigate.
Garvaghy Road residents spokesman Brendán Mac Cionnaith said: “It is noticeable that the British secretary of state Peter Hain, who is ultimately responsible for these appointments, has totally avoided this issue around conflicting interests in any of his comments to the media.”
Mr Mac Cionnaith’s comments were echoed by the Ardoyne Parades Dialogue Group in North Belfast.
Spokesman Joe Marley said: “We do not feel that this new commission is capable of delivering unbiased or impartial determinations and lacks the balance and the vision required to resolve this issue once and for all.”
A spokesman for the NIO refused to comment on the conflict of interest claims, saying the appointments were now a matter for the Commissioner for Public Appointments.
Speaking on Wednesday, secretary of state Peter Hain welcomed Mr Burrows and Mr McKay’s involvement in the Parades Commission.
While Mr McKay confirmed he would take part in next summer’s Drumcree parade, Mr Burrows was remaining tight-lipped on the subject.
“I said I would be looking at all the parades. I will be looking at them all within their own merit. It would be unfair for anyone to stand here and try and say on something like that.”

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