Drumcree hasn’t been forgotten, say Orangemen

Portadown Orangemen marked 6,000 days of their protest at Drumcree on last July
Portadown Orangemen marked 6,000 days of their protest at Drumcree on last July

Orangemen will hold their annual Drumcree parade tomorrow – and will be blocked from completing their walk once again, just as has happened each year since 1998.

The parade was at one time the focal point of Province-wide anger and disorder, as Orangemen pressed to complete their traditional route along the mainly nationalist Garvaghy Road, a road which was blocked by the authorities due to objections by residents.

Portadown District Master Darryl Hewitt told the News Letter: “We still hold a weekly protest at the Drumcree church every Sunday, trying to complete the parade which was first blocked in 1998.

“A PSNI sergeant and 30 police officers meet us every week to block our way.

“But nobody should be under any illusion that although it may have been 17 years since we completed this parade, that does not mean we are forgetting it.”

The local district received permission to hold talks with residents in 2006 and have been pressing for dialogue ever since, he says, with no success.

“The Parades Commission says dialogue is needed at Drumcree – but why would Breandan MacCionnaith come to the table when he has already got everything he wants?

“There are complete double standards by the Parades Commission when you compare how they talk about the need for dialogue at Drumcree and north Belfast.”

Residents spokesman Mr MacCionnaith responded that the Order has “never made it clear that they are prepared to discuss alternative routes”.

They still apply to walk along an even more controversial and even longer-blocked route at Obins Street every year, he claimed.

“Our community feel it is more appropriate and fair that they continue to use the current route, which they were diverted to by the Parades Commission.

“As it is, this still passes many Catholic homes and the Catholic chapel.”

Tomorrow’s parade starts at 10.15am at Carleton Street, Portadown.