Belfast Telegraph

Lack of consensus sees Parades Commission uphold Drumcree ban

By Noel McAdam

An Orange parade from Drumcree church still risks public disorder two decades after marchers were barred from a mainly nationalist area, the Parades Commission has said.

After renewed Orange Order criticism as the anniversary of the march along Garvaghy Road in Portadown passed once more, the Commission defended its ongoing rerouting of the Co Armagh lodge.

In a statement yesterday, the parades watchdog said Portadown No 1 Lodge and the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition are "far from reaching any consensus", not only over what should be on an agenda for talks, but how any process should be established.

"In the absence of an accommodation, the Commission has concluded that the impacts of the parade on community relations remain adverse, and that if it were to proceed along its notified route, there is a high potential for public disorder and a potentially significant disruption to community life," the statement said.

"The human rights issues are, as from the outset, the competing demands by the Orange Order for a parade at a place of its choosing on the Garvaghy Road against the rights of local residents impacted by the parade.

"The Commission has concluded that a restriction on the route beyond Drumcree Parish Church remains necessary, proportionate and fair in respect of this parade.

"This decision reflects the potential impacts on community relations, not only in the immediate vicinity of Portadown, but throughout Northern Ireland."

District master Darryl Hewitt has said the lodge had "offered talks with a neutral chairman and neutral venue with no preconditions", which had "not received a favourable response at all from the residents".

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