In Pictures: Drumcree Orange parade passes peacefully
Orangemen in Portadown have said they are in for the “long haul” in their fight to march along the town’s nationalist Garvaghy Road, as they marked a 12th year of the controversial parade being blocked.
District Master of Portadown Loyal Orange Lodge, Darryl Hewitt, promised to keep battling to have the parade’s controversial restrictions lifted as he addressed members during the annual Drumcree Sunday demonstration yesterday.
In a protest speech to Orangemen, band members and a small number of supporters at a barricade close to Drumcree Parish Church, Mr Hewitt hit out at the “unelected quango” Parades Commission.
He said “the resolve of those who maintain the protest has not diminished” and called on the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition to engage in face-to-face talks with the Orange Order.
Over 200 Orangemen marched through the streets of Portadown yesterday as they made their way to and from the annual service at Drumcree Parish Church at lunchtime.
There was no trouble as the members attended the service before making their way to a small bridge on the descent from the church, which leads in the direction of the Garvaghy Road, where their path was blocked by a police barricade on the orders of the Parades Commission.
As has been the case for more than a decade, a letter was handed over to police from the Orange Order outlining its protest at their traditional route being blocked.
Mr Hewitt then made a speech to the small crowd gathered before the march turned and completed its route by an alternative path, as determined by the commission.
“Once again we find ourselves standing in front of this barrier preventing us from completing our traditional route from Drumcree Parish Church back to our starting point in Carleton Street,” said Mr Hewitt in his address.
“As you are all aware this part of our parade and church service has not been completed since July 1998.
“We will not be walking away from this place and I can assure you that we will continue to work hard to achieve what we desire.
“Our resolve has not diminished over the weeks and months. No one should be in any doubt Portadown District are in this for the long haul — we will not be deflected from seeking to achieve our objective.”
The District only submitted its application to the Parades Commission for permission to march last Sunday, three weeks after the deadline, though it was still permitted, albeit with the usual re-routing. The move was in protest against republican gatherings which were not thought to have applied to the Parades Commission.