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Clause 2 - Membership of the Commission

Part of Justice (Northern Ireland) Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:00 am on 25th March 2004.

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Photo of Mr Andrew Hunter Mr Andrew Hunter Independent Conservative, Basingstoke 10:00 am, 25th March 2004

I shall be equally brief, but I want to put on record concerns about the concept of ''reflective of the community''. On Second Reading, several hon.

Members made the point that the experience of the Unionist community in Northern Ireland does not lead it to respond favourably, on first hearing, to such expressions as ''reflective of the community''. One need only look at the composition and working of the Parades Commission, the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and the former Police Authority for Northern Ireland as well as recent appointments to the Independent Monitoring Commission. Such instances give rise to grave concern among Unionists as to the true purpose and intent of concepts such as ''reflective of the community''.

What precisely is meant by ''reflective of the community''? It is now a fact of life that Sinn Fein is the largest non-Unionist party in the Province. Sinn Fein remains inextricably linked with—indivisible from—the IRA. Is it seriously being suggested that a commission should be ''reflective of the community'' if that community includes representatives of a political movement that has total disregard for the judicial process?