23/06/2006

Parades Commission member quits Orange Order

A member of the Northern Ireland Parades Commission, whose membership of the Orange Order sparked court action earlier in the month, has resigned from the Order.

David Burrows was a member of the Portadown Lodge which was at the centre of the decade-long Drumcree dispute.

It has today been reported that Mr Burrows' decision to leave, came after the Court of Appeal's overturning of a High Court ruling, which claimed that his appointment onto the Parades Commission was illegal.

It is understood that Mr Burrows made his decision to leave the Portadown Orange Lodge, after seeking legal advice on the matter.

It is understood that the Parades Commission had decided to exclude Mr Burrows from ruling on any parades taking place in the Portadown area.

Roger Poole, Chairman of the Parades Commission, today said that Mr Burrows' move was designed to remove any element of doubt about his position.

Mr Poole added that the decision was taken "in the interests of the greater good of the commission and the public interest generally."

The Commission said it had taken account of the judgements of the courts and added that it was "conscious" that Mr Burrows' association with the Portadown lodge meant he could not "participate fully in all of the commission's deliberations, activities and decision making processes."

Earlier in the month, Nationalist residents in Portadown, challenged the Secretary of States' decision to appoint Mr Burrows and another Orangeman, Don McKay, onto the Parades Commission, arguing that no members from Nationalist residents groups had been given the opportunity to submit an application for a position on the board.

Mr MacKay resigned from the Commission recently over a failure to seek approval from named referees in his application.

A spokesperson for the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition, today said that this was "one of the inevitable outworkings of the lengthy legal campaign with which we have been involved with since Peter Hain made his political appointments to the Parades Commission."

Robert Saulters, the Grand Master of the Orange Order, said he was not surprised by Mr Burrows` decision to resign as there had been speculation that he would leave the organisation before leaving the commission.

Sinn Fein Upper Bann assembly member John O'Dowd said the resignation does not change the fact that the Parades Commission remains unbalanced and deeply flawed, and added that regardless of the motivation behind Mr Burrows resignation, it is a case of bolting the stable door after the horse has left - on this occasion, the horse was called 'public confidence."

(EF/SP)

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