Belfast Telegraph

Orange Order determined to overturn 21-year ban on Drumcree parade

Meeting: Karen Bradley
Meeting: Karen Bradley

By Staff Reporter

The Orange Order remains determined to overturn the 21-year-old ban on its members parading their traditional route in Portadown.

The Institution met Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Karen Bradley, after accusing the Parades Commission of failing to meet them for the past year.

News of the meeting came as the Parades Commission this week ruled that - for the 21st year in succession - the Order's members may not parade to and from Drumcree Church via their traditional route.

The controversial parade takes in the now-nationalist Garvaghy Road in the Co Armagh town. Despite the Parades Commission ban - in place since 1998 - each Sunday members from the district hold a token protest against the decision to block the parade, which takes place the Sunday before the July 12 celebrations.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph last night, a spokeswoman for the Northern Ireland Office confirmed a meeting with the Orange Order had been held.

She declined to be drawn on the details of the discussion, but said, however, that the meeting was held at the request of the Orange Order "as part of our regular engagement with community organisations across Northern Ireland".

The Drumcree dispute sparked widespread trouble in the mid-1990s and made global headlines.

A major police and Army operation had to be put in place to contain the unrest.

Portadown Orange Order District Master Darryl Hewitt told the Irish Times that the Order was determined that the 21-year-old protest would continue.

"When I stand down as district master, I will be replaced and every other officer will be replaced and that will go on, and the protest will continue," he said.

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