Irish Republican News · April 26, 2004
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Parades Commission deception

A member of the Orange Order has been accused of using fraudulent claims of cross-community support to win an appointment to the North’s Parades Commission.

Donald McKay has been urged to resign after a nationalist Assembly member found he had used her name as a referee in his application without asking her permission.

McKay was one of two Portadown Orangemen appointed last November by British Direct Ruler Peter Hain to the board which rules on contested parades.

Dolores Kelly, an SDLP Assembly member for Upper Bann which includes Portadown, said last night that Mr McKay had written to apologise.

However, she said his position was untenable and that Mr Hain had to find explanations. “I’m amazed no-one in the Northern Ireland office contacted me before he [ Mr McKay] was appointed,” she said.

“It doesn’t make sense that a nationalist representative for Portadown, of all places, would nominate a member of the Orange Order to the Parades Commission when our positions on parades, sectarianism and the Drumcree march have been so far apart.”

She said his use of her name as a referee was discovered “quite by chance”. Party officials had been discussing the commission with British officials when the revelation was made.

For his part, Mr McKay said he had used Ms Kelly’s name because they had both served on Craigavon Borough Council.

Sinn Féin’s Gerry Kelly has said that the news that the last appointments to the Parades Commission were confirmed without references being checked had thrown the appointments process into chaos.

“This is not the first time that the appointments process being used by direct rule ministers has been exposed,” he said. “Clearly these appointments in relation to the Parades Commission were not carried out in accordance with normal standard procedures.

“Sinn Féin have raised these concerns, and concerns about the appointment of the Victim,s commissioner directly with Peter Hain.

“Sinn Féin share the serious concerns which exist throughout nationalist and republican communities across the North with regard to the make-up of the new Commission.”

There were also reports that equally controversial evidence regarding procedures may also emerge in court during a legal case being initiated by a resident of the Garvaghy Road in Portadown, the scene of major stand-offs over sectarian parades in recent years.

Local repsentatives in the area pointed out those who oversaw this appointments process within the British civil service are the same people who were responsible for the infamous and brutal ‘game plan’ strategy used to force a parade through the Garvaghy Road community in 1997.

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© 2004 Irish Republican News