13 May 2006

Bid to dump Order from parades body

Belfast Telegraph

Legal challenge to Orangemen opens

13 May 2006

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain can remove two Orange Order members from the Parades Commission if they fail to do their job properly, a court was told yesterday.

Mr Hain's decision to appoint two Portadown Orangemen to the body which rules on contentious Orange parades - including the annual Drumcree parade in Portadown - was being challenged in the High Court.

A judicial review was launched in the name of a Garvaghy Road resident, which Orangemen have been banned from parading down.

Lawyers acting for Joe Duffy sought to have the appointment of the Orangemen quashed.

David Burrows, a one-time Order District Master, and fellow Portadown Orangeman and DUP member Donald MacKay were appointed to the Parades Commission in November.

Launching a legal bid to remove the pair, Barry MacDonald, QC, expressed incredulity at the appointment of 'two prominent members of the Orange Lodge that for ten years has been a part of the single most contentious parade in Northern Ireland, namely Drumcree'.

Mr MacDonald said: "Neither could conceivably be regarded as impartial or unaffected."

Nobody from nationalist residents' groups opposing Orange parades was appointed.

A Government report ahead of the reconstitution of the Commission read: "It goes without saying that the members of the parade's commission would have to be impartial."

Defending the procedure, Bernard McCloskey, QC, insisted there were safety measures in place against any conflict of interest.

Mr Hain had 'the power to remove the individuals from office in the event of either of them failing to comply with the terms of their employment', said Mr McCloskey.

The hearing was adjourned until Monday.

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