Belfast Telegraph

Drumcree won’t go away, insists Order as it seeks new discussions

The annual stand-off at Drumcree yesterday
The annual stand-off at Drumcree yesterday
Ivan Little

By Ivan Little

The leader of Orangemen in Portadown has angrily attacked the Parades Commission, claiming he has been waiting 50 weeks for an answer to a communication from him.

District master Darryl Hewitt was speaking after he and 200 colleagues had been once again stopped from marching down Garvaghy Road.

Mr Hewitt said it was time for unionist politicians to "stand up and be counted" over the 21-year Drumcree stalemate.

"They must remind the Government that this issue will not be going away," he added, as he stood on Drumcree bridge after his district's annual church service nearby.

Mr Hewitt, who revealed last week that he had met NIO officials about Drumcree, called on Secretary of State Karen Bradley to convene "urgent and meaningful discussions between all interested parties in this dispute without delay".

He said: "Portadown District will not be found wanting.

"And today after 21 years of justified protest I once again publicly underline our commitment to a fair and equitable solution to this matter."

Brendan Mac Cionnaith, the spokesman for the Garvaghy Road residents, who have consistently opposed any return march through their area, said he knew nothing about any talks other than what he read in newspapers.

Mr Hewitt, meanwhile, complained about what he said was a lack of response from the Parades Commission.

He said: "After last year's parade I am still waiting for a phone call from the Parades Commission.

"The secretary said that he would contact me within two weeks.

"That is now 50 weeks ago and I still haven't heard from him."

The Parades Commission said: "On June 5, 2019, the Commission contacted all interested parties to the annual Drumcree parade, including Portadown District LOL No. 1 and the organiser, and advised them that they may make representation in writing or in person to the Commission about the parade before the Commission considered the parade on June 25, 2019."

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