18 May 2006

Residents’ group rejects SDLP plan

Daily Ireland

Cold reception for Attwood’s parade group appointment proposal

by Eamonn Houston

Residents living in the North’s most notorious marching season flash point have dismissed an SDLP proposal to appoint a residents’ group member to the Parades Commission.
The Garvaghy Road Resident’s Coalition (GRRC) yesterday poured cold water on a suggestion by the SDLP’s Alex Attwood that a residents’ appointment would help strike a balance within a body that has been rocked by controversy this week.
The British government-appointed body to rule on flash point parades in the North was earlier this week branded ‘untenable’ by the GRRC.
The Parades Commission has found itself at the centre of controversy over the appointments of members of the Orange Order who had cited referees without getting their permission.
Orangeman Don Mackay resigned from the commission in the wake of revelations that he had used two referees on an application form without their consent.
He had used the names of Upper Bann DUP MP David Simpson and SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly.
Former Portadown district Orange Lodge Grandmaster, David Burrows, is also known to have used the name of Methodist minister, the Reverend James Rea, without permission.
The Parades Commission is currently involved in a legal challenge launched by a Portadown Garvaghy Road resident who is questioning recent appointments to the body.
Alex Attwood yesterday suggested that the appointment of a member of a residents’ group might restore balance to the commission.
However, a spokesman for the GRRC said: “The suggestion that the secretary of state should appoint a person associated with nationalist residents groups to the Parades Commission as a counterbalance to the remaining Orangeman on the Commission will not resolve the ongoing controversy surrounding appointments.”
The spokesman said that Mr Attwood had failed to grasp the reasons why nationalist residents in Portadown had sought a judicial review of the appointments against direct-rule secretary Peter Hain.
Mr Hain and the Northern Ireland Office oversee appointments to the commission.
The GRRC spokesman said: “The Parades Commission was, last year, reclassified as a tribunal by the NIO.
“As a tribunal, therefore, it is essential that its members are seen to be totally independent, impartial and without personal bias of any kind.”

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