On our pages today we report a depressing but ultimately hopeful story.
Darryl Hewitt, the Orange Order’s Portadown District Master, reveals the extent to which he has gone to talk to Garvaghy Road residents.
He has been rebuffed by the stonewalling of residents, who have not given a final response to mooted dialogue chaired by a Catholic cleric and held in a Catholic Church location.
The story is depressing because it seems to provide proof of something that Orangemen have always believed to be the case – the implacable opposition of the residents to so much as discuss the march, let alone facilitate any part of it.
It is also depressing because of the Parade Commission’s alleged response to Mr Hewitt’s proposal.
These two apparent pieces of information when put together suggest that the resident spokespeople have a dissident republican approach to compromise and that the commission, which will penalise Orangemen for failures in conduct or approach (as at the Ardoyne), will not ever contemplate penalising such dissident-style intransigence in its rulings.
And yet there is hope in the story that we report today.
It is becoming increasingly clear to anyone who thinks carefully about parading that some resident groups depict themselves as downtrodden and vulnerable in the face of bigoted and intransigent Orangemen, when it is they who are bigoted and intransigent.
The success of Orange marches in nationalist areas such as Rossnowlagh and Londonderry city show how uncontroversial loyal order parades can be in such an environment.
A key factor in the success of those parades was the constructive approach adopted by the loyal orders. Such an approach is clearly on display in Portadown. With Sinn Fein prepared for business at Stormont, the day could come when even they break with the intransigence on the Garvaghy Road.