16 May 2006

SDLP angry at Hain over parades

BBC


David Burrows was appointed to the commission

NI Secretary Peter Hain has been accused of making "disgraceful comments" about SDLP complaints over appointments to the Parades Commission.

It comes after a Methodist minister revealed he did not give permission for Orangeman David Burrows to use his name as a referee for a post on the body.

There was no comment on Monday from Mr Burrows or the Commission.

Mr Hain said the SDLP and others should "stop jockeying for position" over the appointments and see the "big picture".

The SDLP's Alex Attwood said Mr Hain had got the issue "badly, badly wrong".

"This is disgraceful in its content and disturbing in its attitude," he said.

The Burrows case is a virtual re-run of controversy surrounding another Orangeman and Commission member, Don MacKay.

Mr McKay put down SDLP assembly member Dolores Kelly as a referee without her permission.

Methodist minister Jim Rea has confirmed that he provided a reference for one Portadown Orangeman in an application to the Commission.

However, he said that he would have refused to allow his name to be used in a similar application by another.

Both appointments - made by Mr Hain - has been challenged through the courts.

The hearing ended on Monday, with the judgement reserved until a later date.

The Protestant marching season is one of the fixed elements of Northern Ireland life, and in recent years some parades have led to disputes and street violence.

The government-appointed Parades Commission was set up in 1997 to make decisions on whether controversial parades should be restricted.

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