Parades body appointments upheld

    By Kilsally,

    Parades body appointments upheld

    Don MacKay (left) and David Burrows
    Don MacKay (left) and David Burrows are prominent Orangemen
    The Court of Appeal has upheld Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain's decision to appoint two Orangemen to the Parades Commission.

    The court's majority verdict overturned a judicial review in May which said that the appointment of David Burrows and Don MacKay was unlawful.

    The appeal was upheld by Lord Chief Justice Sir Brian Kerr and Lord Justice Campbell.

    The third appeal judge, Lord Justice Nicholson, dismissed the appeal.

    Reading out the majority decision on Friday, Lord Chief Justice Kerr said the conflict of interest the two Orangemen would face in making decisions was both inescapable and obvious.

    But prior to their appointment, he said, they had given assurances that they would treat all parade applications in an objective manner.

    In May's judicial review, the High Court said Mr Hain had failed to ensure the commission make-up represented both sides of the community.


    Mr Hain had written to the main political parties, the four main churches and the loyal orders during the appointments process, but had not sought applications to the seven-member commission from any residents' group.

    However, Lord Chief Justice Kerr said "the officials responsible for advertising the post of commissioner and soliciting applications for appointment to the commission were not under an obligation to consider whether to target residents' groups as a counterbalance to the letter sent to the loyal orders".

    "This was the single ground on which the judge had found that the decision of the secretary of state was invalid," he added.

    Brendan MacCionnaith
    Brendan MacCionnaith said they may take the case to the Lords

    The case was brought to court by Joe Duffy, a resident of the nationalist Garvaghy Road in Portadown, who sought to overturn the appointment of Mr Burrows and Mr MacKay.

    Speaking outside the court, Brendan Mac Cionnaith, spokesman for the Garvaghy Road Residents' Group, said they would be consulting their legal representatives on whether to take the case to the House of Lords.

    "The whole question of equality has come into play in this judgment," he said.

    "There has been a cloud cast over the equality provision we were promised under the Good Friday Agreement.

    "The Lords is obviously the next stage and over the next day or two we will sit down and work out the options."

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    Both Mr Burrows and Mr MacKay were members of the Portadown Lodge which has been at the centre of the decade-long dispute surrounding what has become known as the Drumcree parade.

    Mr MacKay resigned from the commission earlier this month after it emerged he had listed DUP MP David Simpson and SDLP assembly member Dolores Kelly as referees on his application form without asking their permission.

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

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