Decision time for new Orange PC…

THE McNarry/Kennaway row rumbles on with another letter to the Belfast Telegraph. This time, internal Orange critic Rev Brian Kennaway writes that Parades Commission critic and Orangeman David McNarry MLA “failed to specifically clarify whether or not he applied for and was interviewed for the post of chairman of the Parades Commission in the previous competition in 1999/2000”. It might not seem such a crucial issue right now, but by as soon as next week, it could be pretty useful for some to know the whole truth. Here’s why:In a very short time, former Portadown Orange district master David Burrows is likely to be forced to accept a decision by the new Parades Commission – on which he controversially now sits – not to allow his own lodge to march the disputed Garvaghy Road route. The new PC is operating under the same legislation as the old one, and won’t have had the opportunity to do anything in preparation for the decision.

So it seems highly unlikely that there the new Commission will launch into 2006 by controversially trying to justify a complete U-turn on the Drumcree issue (although we are in strange times).

Burrows seems to have key figures in the DUP, such as Jim Allister MEP, ‘onside’. His chief critic is likely to be Mr McNarry, often the UUP spokesman on parades, who has called for the abolition of the Parades Commission. David Vance is unlikely to be silenced though!

Should there be substance behind the allegations levelled by Rev Kennaway – and I haven’t heard him make them lightly in the past, nor I am sure would the Sunday Times have run the story without some reason – then that would considerably help deflect any opportunistic UUP criticism of Burrows. If true, it would show that the UUP’s main opponent to the Parades Commission attempted to do what David Burrows has more recently done – sit on it.

I think the UUP see a gap opening between them adopting a fairly hardline stance on parades, with the DUP and its sympathisers on the Parades Commission apparently shifting towards a more pragmatic ‘work the system’ approach that may eventually yield results. Or not, as the UUP will remind them – but the unionist approach to the parades issue no longer appears as bilateral as it once did.

There has always been a bit of a rivalry between the UUP and DUP for the hearts and minds of the loyal orders. It’ll certainly be interesting to see how Burrows will brazen his first negative Drumcree decision out – and how others react.