Drumcree showdown ruled out
Concerns that a sectarian march could still be forced through
the nationalist Garvaghy Road in Portadown were resolved after
the Protestant Orange Order dropped a legal challenge today.
A last-minute change-of-heart by the Parades Commission on the
Orange Order's notorious Drumcree march has been ruled out after
the Orange Order decided not to launch a last minute legal
challenge to the Parades Commission's decision to again reroute
this year's Drumcree parade away from the nationalist enclave.
On Monday, the Parades Commission rejected a request by
Orangemen to review its ruling preventing them marching down the
Garvaghy Road on Sunday.
It was the first time a review sought by the Portadown lodge
over the annual Drumcree march has been rejected by the
On previous occasions, some reviews have gone right down to the
wire, with decisions released on the eve of the parade.
A spokesman for the Parades Commission said last night: "The
commission only reviews a decision if new evidence is presented.
No new evidence has been presented."
Mr Jones had voiced hope that the ruling would be overturned.
"Obviously we are disappointed," he said yesterday.
"Our march on Sunday to the church and for the morning service
will go ahead as normal. If we are denied walking along the
Garvaghy Road, we will make our protest and we hope everything
will pass off peacefully.
"That is our desire and what we are working towards."
The Portadown Orangeman called on the British Prime Minister, Tony
Blair, to disband the Parades Commission.
"We believe that the commission has bowed to threats from Sinn
Fein, and is now effectively being driven by a Sinn Fein agenda.
We are now calling on the Prime Minister to carry out a review
of the commission with a view to having it scrapped."
With no trouble at last year's Drumcree march, security is
expected to be scaled down even further than in previous years,
but extra Crown force personnel have been put on stand-by.
Garvaghy Road residents spokesman Breandan MacCionnaith welcomed
the latest development.
"There is a lot of relief around the area, especially in view of
what happened with the review in relation to the Springfield
Road march in west Belfast (which saw a ban overturned last
week)," he said.
"Hopefully this Sunday will pass off without incident. Last year
went off without incident and indeed Portadown has been
relatively quiet in the last 12 months.
"There has been a number of sectarian incidents, but not to the
high levels there would have been in previous years."
Meanwhile, Sinn Fein Assembly member Mr Gerry Kelly called on
Ian Paisley's DUP to sit down with Sinn Fein to discuss
"The DUP are currently sitting on the North and West Parades
Forum with three loyalist paramilitary groups. Let's show
political leadership by meeting on the parades issue. I would
also urge the DUP to use their influence with the Orange Order
to encourage them to enter into dialogue with nationalist
* An Orange Order parade through east Belfast, one of a number
in the city last night, passed off quietly in the presence of a
large group of nationalist protestors and a heavy deployment of
Residents from the Short Strand gathered outside their homes
with banners of protest as the parade passed along the
They were separated from the parade by a wall of British Army
Landrovers, with British soldiers patrolling gaps between the