04 January 2006

Commission to 'review procedures'

BBC

The Parades Commission is to "take a new approach" to the way it operates, its new chairman has said.

Speaking after the first meeting of newly-appointed members, Roger Poole confirmed that a review of the commission's procedures will be held.

He said the commission would offer an input to loyal orders, residents' groups and political parties.

"I firmly believe that transparency, dialogue and mediation are the basis on which progress can be made," he said.

"We will take further steps to ensure that the wider public have an opportunity to input into the review which will begin before the end of January and will cover the guidelines, procedural rules and the code of conduct."

Mr Poole described the review as "the first step in opening up the process by which the commission sets about its work".

In coming weeks, he said, commission members would "identify the most contentious areas" and he "intended to walk the walk" in each locality.

"There is a dynamic in the new Commission which will drive forward our work with a renewed sense of urgency and action," he said.

"We are looking forward to our work and it is my hope that progress can be made on parades in Northern Ireland in 2006."

The Parades Commission was set up in 1997 to make decisions on whether or not restrictions should be imposed on controversial parades during Northern Ireland's marching season.

Mr Poole is a former assistant general secretary of the Unison union.

Among the new members of the commission are former Portadown Orange District Master David Burrows, who came to prominence during the Drumcree parade dispute.

Donald MacKay, an Orangeman and former Ulster Unionist councillor on Craigavon Borough Council who is now a member of the DUP, has also been appointed, as has former SDLP MP Joe Hendron.

Women are represented on the new Parades Commission. Ann Monaghan, who once stood for the Women's Coalition, Vilma Patterson and Alison Scott-McKinley have been appointed.

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