Orange Order sources have poured scorn on a report that the Drumcree protest could be over after 20 years.
The Sunday World highlighted that a split has occurred in Drumcree Parish Church and quoted unnamed sources as suggesting this could result in Orangemen cancelling their weekly protest at the nearby police line as they symbolically attempt to complete their traditional march route, which was banned by the Parades Commission in 1998.
The News Letter has reported details of the apparent split in the church on several occasions. Parishioners are concerned at development plans which they fear are going to “destroy” the character of the ancient building.
However, Orange sources ridiculed yesterday’s claims that this tension has given rise to “speculation” that the whole Drumcree marching protest may be drawing to a close.
The Sunday World claimed this could be because there may not be enough Orangemen left in the church to organise the annual church service which is part of the July 12 parade.
One Orange source told the News Letter: “We marched up to the police line today as normal and gave our normal verbal protest to officers; we have never handed over a letter as the Sunday World reported.
“We are not formally invited to the church service each year nor do we request an invitation, so any suggestion that Orangemen leaving the church threatens our protest simply doesn’t make any sense.”
Drumcree minister Rev Gary Galway declined to comment.