As the Press Association.. and the BBC reports says, Secretary of State for Wales and Northern Ireland, Peter Hain, has responded to the criticism of Don MacKay’s appointment to the Parades Commission. In a letter to the SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly he stated “I believe we have the best people to do the job and the Parades Commission has my full support”. Now I know from the previous thread that some people don’t see the problem here, and in particular, some don’t seem to have a problem with the references used by Don MacKay in his application to a position on the Parades Commission, so I’ll attempt to set out why I believe it is a problem.Before that, here are the remainder of the avaiable quotes from Peter Hain’s letter, as reported by the BBC –
“As you know, all appointments to the Parades Commission were made by me, taking into account the range of skills and experience that each member would bring to the commission.
“You asked specifically about Mr MacKay’s appointment and I understand that he has now written to you to explain his personal position in including you as a referee.
“I hope that this has now provided you with clarification.”
Firstly the Parades Commission is a public body, funded by tax-payers, another of the numerous quangos the Review of Public Administration was supposed to be reducing.. and arguably another body taking decisions that should be taken by the courts, in relation to the rule of law.. but we’ll leave that to one side for now.
We’ll also leave to one side, although it’s undoubtedly pertinent in this case, the political affiliations of Don MacKay, a former local councillor [1993-1997] and a member of the Royal Black and Orange Institution, and Dolores Kelly, a SDLP MLA.
What we’re left with is a private individual, seeking an appointment to a public body, using as a reference in support of his application to a position on that public body, the name of a democratically elected representative of a regional Assembly – without seeking that representative’s consent.
Add to that the admission by the NIO, and in the light of the released letter today, Peter Hain, that the none of the references – of any of the applicants – were followed up on, not even when the reference was that of an elected representative.
Those facts should, at the very least call into question the judgement of the Don MacKay, and should also call into question the procedures for appointments to such public bodies. Additionally, given the latest statements from Peter Hain, the facts that we’re aware of should also call into question the judgement of the Secretary of State.. who now appears to believe it’s a matter bewteen the two individuals concerned and nothing more than that.
Of course, we could assume from this that Peter Hain, MP, is perfectly happy for his name to used in any application to a public body here that you may be thinking of making… and you might as well use him as a reference.. after all.. the NIO isn’t going to check..