Belfast Telegraph

Orangemen mark 6,000 days of Drumcree protest

By Joanne Fleming

The Orange Order says it remains as determined as ever to resolve the Drumcree impasse as it marked 6,000 days of protest yesterday.

Portadown District Master Darryl Hewitt said he was "sincerely annoyed" there had been no resolution but "proud to be still carrying the torch of protest".

A group of Orangemen have staged a protest at Drumcree every Sunday since a parade was stopped in 1998, following a dispute with nationalist residents in the nearby Garvaghy Road area of Portadown.

"I am sure when the late Harold Gracey stated on Drumcree Sunday in 1998 that Portadown District would remain on protest until we got our civil and religious liberties restored, no one could have imagined then that it would fall on us to commemorate 6,000 days of protest," said Mr Hewitt.

"Every Sunday and as we have done today we proceed from the church at 1pm to be stopped by a police sergeant at the bridge and told that we cannot proceed any further because of a determination by the Parades Commission.

"Not only on day one of the protest, but every day since, right up to and including day 6,000, the Parades Commission has failed to produce any hope of resolution to this dispute.

"Brethren of Portadown District will be aware that I, together with District Officers, have instigated a process - without any input from the Parades Commission - whereby both parties to this problem could try and resolve the issues pertaining to the Garvaghy Road dispute. We have still to receive a response from the GRRC (Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition), despite the offer being placed on the table over three months ago."

Among senior Orangemen in attendance were Grand Secretary of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland Drew Nelson and Assistant Grand Master Harold Henning.

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