Alliance Party Leader David Ford has said the Secretary of State has taken a huge risk by moving away from clearly impartial people in his appointments to the new Parades Commission.
Mr Ford stated: “Although other parties will not admit it for their own self-serving reasons, the last Parades Commission was in general a success. While some of its determinations were simply baffling, it did reduce the temperature of the parading season and it moved the Commission out of the political headlines.
“The reason for this success was that the Commissioners were impartial – none had a direct interest either way in the parading issue, other than the interest shared by us all that it should pass off as peacefully as possible.
“The Secretary of State may, therefore, have taken a retrograde step by appointing people with a direct interest in the issue to the Commission. Although he has appointed some exceptionally capable people and all democrats will wish them well, it remains to be seen if they will all be able to grasp the huge complexities of the issue – particularly in terms of law and human rights. This problem has forced resignations from the Commission in the past.
“It is clear yet again that, far from being an independent Commission appointed on merit, political manoeuvrings are at work. For all our sakes, I hope the Secretary of State’s judgement is better on this than it has been on issues such as terrorist amnesties and the reform of public administration.
“I and my party wish to thank Sir Anthony Holland and the outgoing Commissioners for doing such a good job so well in such difficult circumstances. They deserve more thanks than they will get.”