Belfast Telegraph

Orange Order still wants to march at Drumcree

By Deborah McAleese

The Orange Order has accused nationalist residents in Portadown of ignoring attempts to resolve the Drumcree stand-off.

Darryl Hewitt, Portadown District Master at Drumcree, claimed the Garvaghy Road Residents Committee (GRRC) had failed to respond to offers to enter into dialogue about the long-running impasse.

GRRC recently said the Order had "never made it clear that they are prepared to discuss alternative routes".

As the annual Drumcree parade passed peacefully yesterday, Mr Hewitt challenged the Parades Commission "to step up to the mark and encourage both sides to the dispute to come to the table and talk".

The Drumcree parading route would take Orangemen along the Garvaghy Road, which is a predominantly nationalist area of the town.

Yesterday marked the 20th anniversary of the Drumcreee stand-off. In June 1995 nationalist residents blocked the main parade route as Orangemen returned from nearby Drumcree parish church.

The parade has been banned from the Garvaghy Road since 1998.

Since then Orangemen have staged a protest at Drumcree every Sunday.

In December they marked 6,000 days of protest. The Grand Secretary of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Drew Nelson, said that peaceful and dignified protest remains the best means of opposition to the decisions of the Parades Commission.

Mr Nelson accused nationalists and republicans of "holding a veto over progress" and appealed to the Secretary of State to introduce new parading legislation.

He also claimed the current regulatory framework was "clearly biased" in favour of those who oppose the parades.

But he insisted any actions around the Twelfth of July must be lawful and passive.

"As our institution and the bands community face much scrutiny over the coming days as we celebrate the 325th anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne, I would underline that any actions over the Twelfth must be both lawful and passive. Our traditions are dear to us and are only undermined by violence," he said.

Orangemen from east Belfast are to protest at Stormont today for the Parades Commission to be replaced.

Ballymacarrett District LOL No 6 said the peaceful picket at Stormont Estate "is to highlight the intransigence and duplicity of the Secretary of State and the Northern Ireland Office in respect of the Parades Commission."

Twenty years of controversy over parade

July 1995: The first serious stand-off comes when the RUC bans the Orange Order march past the Garvaghy Road and Orangemen refuse to leave the area. A compromise is reached with a limited march in silence.

July 1996: Residents succeed in stopping the march but following a wave of loyalist violence the march is allowed through.

July 1997: Security forces barricade the nationalist area and force the march through.

July 1998: The march is banned from the Garvaghy Road and leads to the worst violence yet.

July 1999: The Order agrees to a ruling but protests follow next year.

Belfast Telegraph


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