DRUMCREE PARADE RE-ROUTED
Sunday's Drumcree parade by the Orange Order has been rerouted away
from the nationalist Garvaghy Road in Portadown for the sixth
The North's Parades Commission took the decision following the refusal
of the Orange Order to engage in direct dialogue with local residents.
The annual attempt by hardline Protestant militants to parade through
the Catholic enclave has sparked violent confrontations in recent
years. Major conflagrations spread across the North of Ireland when
nationalists first protested against the provocative sectarian displays
by blocking the route in the late '90s.
Recent stand-offs have been less violent, but last year still saw
intense clashes between loyalists and British forces around barriers on
Despite suggestions the Orange Order should be allowed to march along
the Garvagy Road to appease restive hardliners in the Ulster Unionist
Party, the Parades Commission said today there continued to be a strain
on community relations in the area.
It added: "The Commission has cause to believe that should the parade
process the entirety of its notified route, there will be an adverse
effect on community relations and a potential for public disorder."
On Saturday, the contentious Orange Order parade along part of the
nationalist Springfield Road in west Belfast passed off peacefully
following strenuous efforts to maintain calm in the area, and such
efforts are likely to be repeated next Sunday.
Sinn Fein's Upper Bann representative, Dr Dara O'Hagan, has reiterated
her party's support for the residents of the Garvaghy Road and said the
decision to re-route the march was the only correct one.
Dr O'Hagan said the situation had not fundamentally changed since 1998
when the Parades Commission first turned down an application from the
Orange Order to march along the Garvaghy Road.
"Since that time, Portadown District Orange Lodge have consistently
refused to meet directly with the representatives of the Garvaghy Road
community with a view to working towards a resolution of the marching
issue in Portadown," she said. "Indeed, the Orange Order has
refused to meet with the Parades Commission itself.
"In the absence of local agreement and given the Orange Order's
intransigent stance the only correct decision is to re-route this
march. There is an alternative route. The Garvaghy Road community
should not be held hostage to wider political fortunes. The right of
that community to live free from sectarian harassment and intimidation
must be upheld."