Belfast Telegraph

Parade allowed to march along Garvaghy Road for first time in two decades

By John Mulgrew

A loyalist march has been granted permission to march along a section of the Garvaghy Road in Portadown for the first time in almost two decades.

The Parades Commission gave the go ahead for bands to march along the lower section of the predominately nationalist area on Saturday evening.

Two bands are due to take part in the march, including the Portadown True Blues Flute Band and Hillhaven Flute Band.

The application was made by the Parkmount Arch Committee.

Around 200 people are due to take part.

The march will pass by along a section of the road close to the town centre on Saturday.

Concerned nationalist residents are due to meet the commission on Tuesday morning, according to the Irish News.

Now the commission has said it has received "fresh information" from residents and is to review the decision.

'Garvaghy Road' parade is reviewed after outcry

"Following the issuing of its determination regarding a proposed parade organised by the Parkmount Arch Committee on Saturday, June 28, in Portadown, the Parades Commission has received a request to review its decision," a spokesman said.

"The commission has concluded that this request contains fresh information and, in line with procedure, will meet today (Tuesday) to review its original determination.

"The Parades Commission cannot comment on details relating to a decision currently under review."

The stretch of road in Portadown has been at the centre of Northern Ireland's parading disputes - with the Drumcree crisis having flared for years in the town.

The Orange Order has been banned from parading along the nationalist stretch since 1998.

In its determination, the Parades Commission said the march "is notified to take place partly in the lower Garvaghy Road area of Portadown".

"Parades in this area from Protestant/loyalist/unionist tradition have in the past been the focus of serious tension and disorder," it said.

"The Commission recognises that, although there has been a reduction in these tensions in recent years, there continues to be a strain on community relations in this area."

The latest decision comes as signs for a peaceful marching season looked increasingly positive in Belfast, after a contentious parade passed off without trouble earlier this month.

The Tour of the North had in the past been marred with violent clashes between nationalist protesters and unionist band members and supporters.

Branches of the loyal orders gathered at Carlisle Circus before passing through Donegall Street and continuing their route.

Last year, a number of arrests were made during and after the parade, while there was also a controversial incident when Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly was driven a short distance while clinging to a police Land Rover.

To read the full determination by the Parades Commission click here.

Further reading

'Garvaghy Road' parade is reviewed after outcry 

Richard Haass calls for Irish to be official language in Northern Ireland

Orange march in north Belfast passes peacefully

Appeal for calm ahead of contested 'Tour of the North' parade in Belfast

Parades: Tour of the North march 'can only play single drumbeat' as they pass Belfast Catholic church

Parades: Orange Order says bands 'will only play hymns' as they pass flashpoint outside Catholic church in Belfast

Police chief appeals for calm ahead of Orange Order parades in north Belfast

Parties to renew parades peace bid

Optimism before Parades Commission ruling on Ardoyne Orange march, but loyalist hopes dashed  

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