Orange Commissioner walks plank

Orangeman Don McKay has announced his resignation from the Parades Commission. The Portadown Orangeman’s appointment- alongside that of another Orangeman David Burrows– has been the subject of much controversy in recent times, not least because both Orange figures apparently submitted references who have since publicly stated they were not consulted; and if they had been, would have declined to let their names go forward.
With a Court case on-going into the validity of their appointments, this news will undoubtedly embarass Peter Hain, and will bring further pressure on the British Secretary of State to act to redress the clear imbalance on the Commission.
Update: A tetchy Peter Hain has released a statement about Don McKay’s resignation, in which he chastises nationalists for objecting to “an Orange presence” on the Commission. Perhaps Peter would not have faced these problems had he ensured there was a corresponding ‘nationalist residents presence’ on the troubled Commission?

  • Mick Fealty

    Is that another (by the skin of our teeth) scoop? Beeb announced it at 5. If so, good work Chris.

    Not sure that the same follows for Burrows though.

  • Excellent news. And to think that permatan Hain was criticising the SDLP yesterday for ‘troublemaking’ over the position of these Orangemen on the Parades Commission. Dolores Kelly and those who took the court case have done well by sticking on this one.

  • slug

    Just to repeat: there is nothing all that wrong with putting down a persons name as a referee without permission. I get mine put down without permission from time to time. While its nice etiquette to ask its not a big deal if permission isn’t sought, I just do the reference anyway. SO I fail to see the issue.

  • Lurker

    The issue is when you put down the name of someone who would give you a negative reference or no reference at all.

    And since it was the disclosure that McKay had done this twice that was the killer blow for him, there must be considerable interest now in finding out who Burrows’ other ‘referee’ was.

  • slug

    I really don’t think it is an issue.

    Whose responsibility was it to ensure the references were sent in? Usually that is the employer’s responsibility, not the responsibility of the potential employee. So I still don’t see the big issue.

  • The Beach Tree


    It’s called lying. It may not be a big issue to you, but to some it’s worthy of comment.

    A reference is someone who can and will vouch for you. If you haven’t even asked them, then it’s a deception. If it’s clear they wouldn’t do so if asked, doubly so.

    You may be willing to give references unasked, that’s your lookout. If, as an employer I found out you hadn’t been asked, I’d think twice about employing the applicant who gave you as a referee. If I found that the referee in question would not vouch for them, I’d definetely not hire them. And frankly, I should find that out.

    So it makes McKay (and Burrows) appear dishonest, and the appointment body appear incompetent, or worse.

    Add to this that this is not just an employee, but a controversial public appointment, and it just gets worse.

    See now, slug?

  • slug

    “It’s called lying.”

    Where did he lie? Putting down a name of a person who knows you as a referee seems ok, I have had people put my name down without asking. Sometimes you see the reference is fairly negative. It actually sounds like the people concerned knew the applicants fairly well. I can’t see any LYING here.

  • rupert

    Will the ‘other’ lying member of the commission also now resign.

  • PortadownOM

    I’ll lay evens that Ian Milne, local Orangeman and Funeral Director, gets elevated to the Commission in place of Don McKay. He had originally been shortlisted and he has ‘valid’ references. Some would say he’s a ‘dead cert’.

  • elfinto

    For condescending arrogance it’s hard to beat Hain’s statement.

  • Elfinto- sure why would he care? It’s not like we can vote him out of office. People raise legitimate concerns about the circumstances of appointments to the Parades Commissions (circumstances created by Hain’s backdoor dealings) and he has the cheek to criticise them accusing them of troublemaking.

    Apart from the charade which took place around the false references, how can someone who is in the Orange Order adjudicate on the Orange Order?!

    I know the British have a track record of having no idea how to handle things in this part of the world, but Hain takes the biscuit. And then he has the gall to criticise those who seek the truth about his dealings and unaccountable appointments to what is a very important public body.

    Hopefully the replacements will be more acceptable to both unionists and nationalists- the Parades Commission needs people without vested interests, whether they’re nationalist, unionist or neither.

  • elfinto

    I think Brendy from Portadown or Gerard Rice from the LOCC would do a good job and be seen to be fair and impartial.

  • stan

    What about David Ervine, he seems quite popular with unionists at the moment.

    Good references as well , Reg Empey & Mark Haddock.

  • Bemused

    Read the text of the Fair Employment Tribunal decision in which McKay featured and you’ll note that it couldn’t have happened to a nicer, sectarian, biggoted oaf. Agree with previous posters on this one – Hain’s arrogance in accusing everyone else of mischief making when he’d acted completely improperly and unlawfully in the first place really takes the biscuit. Still, should be entertaining to hear the High Court give him a ‘Lord No-Brainer’-style kicking on Friday.

  • Bemused

    Christ! Just read Hain’s statement – what a twat. As Chris quite properly points out – if he’d also appointed a ‘residents presence’ on the Commission then he wouldn’t be in this mess. Fair play to the Stoops for pursuing this one and for the Garvaghy road punter for taking his judicial review.

  • missfitz

    I’m not going to open up the reference debate, as it was done to death here, but I want to pick up one of Beach Tree’s points.

    For such a prominent and important position, with such leading referees, would it not have behoven the NIO to make a phone call?

    This wasnt done, and I think what we should be asking, is what changes are going to be effected in the appointment of public figures in cases such as this.

    This mess has created confusion, lack of confidence and has potentially slowed down the work of the commission.

    What assurances do we the public have that this shoddy work is not going to be done in our name again?

  • Nevin


    The Parades Commissions have been indulging in shoddy work themselves. The previous one gave permission for a parade in paramilitary ‘uniform’ in [url=]Strabane[/url] and the present one for a similar parade in [url=]Ballycastle[/url].

  • Bemused

    Quite right Nevin – both parades were an utter disgrace and should never have been permitted. I seem to recall another obscenity in Ballymena with various militarily attired half-wits chanting I.N.L.A. slogans etc. All of these sorts of ‘parades’ should be banned. Anyone wearing any sort of paramilitary uniform, carrying any sort of paramilitary banner or flag or making any sort of paramilitary-supporting statements should be arrested on sight.

  • Nevin


    It seems the authorities in [url=]Scotland[/url] were prepared to intervene.

  • Jo

    Ahem, it is down to individual Departments involved in making Public Appointments to decide whether or not to take up references.
    As the standard application or expression of interest template contains the requirement to list 2, it seems obvious that the information, if requsted, should be acted upon.

    I find it very strange that the procedure of checking with referees was not pursued AT ANY STAGE. (eg closing date for applications, sifting, interviewing, recommendation to Minister to appoint, informal offering of appointment, formal offer inc. terms n conditions…)

    Several opportunities were there to follow procedure and none were taken. Is there a whistleblower anywhere in the appointments team?

  • Nevin

    Jo, it might be interesting to reflect on the [url=]official statement[/url] at the the time of the appointments. Here’s part of it:

    “Lord Rooker: My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Peter Hain) has made the following Ministerial Statement.

    I am pleased to announce today the appointment of Roger Poole as the new Chairman of the Parades Commission for Northern Ireland. I am also appointing six new Commissioners: David Burrows, Dr Joseph Hendron, Donald MacKay, Anne Monaghan, Vilma Patterson, and Alison Scott-McKinley.

    The appointments follow an open recruitment process based on merit. The new chairman and six new members will take up their posts on 1 January 2006.

    These appointments bring a completely new dynamic to the Parades Commission. The membership represents the interests of all the people of Northern Ireland. They come from a variety of backgrounds, with a broad skills mix and, for the first time, a gender balance.

    I am particularly pleased that two people with personal experience and understanding of the Orange Order and the cultural importance of parades have been appointed to the commission.”