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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 April 2007, 19:17 GMT 20:17 UK
Ashdown to head parading review
Lord Ashdown
Lord Ashdown is to head a review into parading
Former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown is to head a review of parading in Northern Ireland, it has been announced.

NI Secretary Peter Hain said Lord Ashdown would bring great "expertise and credibility" to the job.

Lord Ashdown - a former international high representative for Bosnia - was raised in Northern Ireland.

The government promised an independent review of parading in the St Andrews Agreement.

Lord Ashdown and his review team will begin their work in May, with a view to reporting to the government in 2008.

"Lord Ashdown brings a huge amount of experience in conflict resolution with him and is highly regarded both nationally and internationally," Mr Hain said.

  • Sammy Douglas - Belfast Interface Group
  • Mervyn Gibson - Orange Order Chaplain Lodge of Ireland
  • Sean Murray - Springfield Residents' Group
  • Geraldine McAteer- West Belfast Partnership
  • Garvan O'Doherty - Londonderry businessman
  • Mervyn Rankin, former chief executive of Ballymena council
  • "He has an excellent understanding of the issues that affect Northern Ireland and his work starts at a time when the historic agreement reached between the DUP and Sinn Fein has moved the political process on to a new era."

    Sinn Fein expressed caution over Lord Ashdown's appointment.

    Party leader Gerry Adams said that his background as a former serving soldier in Northern Ireland meant he was not equipped for the job.

    Lord Ashdown rejected the criticism.

    "I was in Belfast as a young soldier in 1969/70 that was then this is now - if you look into the background of other people on this commission they were doing different things that long ago.

    "I don't think Northern Ireland should be tied to its past I'm certainly not going to be - we're looking to the future here," he told the BBC's Newsline programme.

    North Belfast DUP assembly members Nigel Dodds and Nelson McCausland described the appointment of well known republican Sean Murray as showing a lack of sensitivity which could undermine the review process.

    Sean Murray
    Sean Murray was also appointed to the review

    The remit of the review team is to make recommendations on how parading can be taken forward in a way "consistent with the shared future objectives of respect, tolerance, responsible citizenship and promoting equality of opportunity and human rights".

    Lord Ashdown said: "I know the work will be challenging and there are no simple answers to what are fundamentally very difficult problems, but I am looking forward to the challenge and to the debate and to contributing to what must be, if it is to succeed, a locally-grown solution to this issue."

    Lord Ashdown was born in New Delhi, but grew up in Donaghadee and Comber.

    He returned to the province as a Royal Marines officer when the Troubles started in the early 1970s.

    His political career peaked in 1988 when he was elected Liberal Democrat leader, a post he held until 1999.

    After standing down from the Commons in 2001 he was elevated to the House of Lords and appointed as the UN High Representative in Bosnia-Herzegovina, a post in which he served until 2005.

    Lord Ashdown became a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George (GCMG) in the 2006 New Year Honours List in recognition of his work in the Balkans.

    Ashdown to get university honour
    23 Mar 06 |  Northern Ireland
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    09 Jan 06 |  UK Politics
    Ashdown heads political honours
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