'Garvaghy Road' parade is reviewed after outcry
The Parades Commission is reconsidering its decision to allow a loyalist parade in Portadown amid nationalist claims the route includes the Garvaghy Road.
The thoroughfare has previously been at the centre of parading disputes – with the Drumcree crisis having flared for years in the town.
Nationalist residents are furious at the decision to allow this Saturday's march in the Co Armagh town and lodged a complaint against the ruling.
However, unionists have insisted the march along Victoria Terrace is not part of the road, which Orangemen have been prohibited from since 1998 when it was at the heart of the Drumcree dispute.
Members of the parading watchdog met yesterday to review their original decision, with the outcome expected today.
In the notification for the march, submitted to the Parades Commission, it is expected that around 200 people and two bands will take part in the parade organised by the Parkmount Arch Committee – the Portadown True Blues Flute Band and Hillhaven Flute Band.
Brendan Mac Cionnaith of the Garvaghy Road Residents' Coalition said the decision to permit the parade without restrictions was "deeply flawed and incomprehensible".
The group has argued that Victoria Terrace is widely regarded by nationalists as part of the Garvaghy Road.
DUP MP David Simpson yesterday insisted that was not the case, and called for the event to "be able to proceed without hindrance".
"Conflicting reports in recent hours have communicated anger from nationalist residents claiming that the parade will be travelling along the lower Garvaghy Road; however we must get our facts right and understand that Victoria Terrace is not part of the contested Garvaghy Road," he said.
"Orangemen have been denied their right to march down Garvaghy Road since 1998 and they have continued their peaceful stance ever since.
"A similar attitude must be mirrored from nationalists this weekend. We need to see tolerance and respect shown by all sides."
The Parades Commission would not comment on the nature of the fresh information which had prompted its review.
A spokeswoman said: "Following the issuing of its determination regarding a proposed parade organised by the Parkmount Arch Committee on Saturday, June 28th, in Portadown, the Parades Commission has received a request to review its decision.
"The commission has concluded that this request contains fresh information and, in line with procedure, will meet today to review its original determination.
"The Parades Commission cannot comment on details relating to a decision currently under Review."
The Drumcree parade is held on the Sunday before the Twelfth of July.
There have been intermittent violent clashes during the parade since at least 1873.
The onset of the Troubles led to the dispute intensifying in the 1970s and 1980s.
In 1995, the march drew the attention of the international media as it led to widespread protests and severe rioting throughout Northern Ireland.
This was repeated every July for the next four years.
The dispute led to the deaths of at least five civilians and prompted a massive police and Army operation before it was banned.