Although Darryl Hewitt pioneered a more pragmatic Orange approach to engagement with the Parades Commission - and even invoked the condemnation of the order for going as far as to meet Gerry Adams in an attempt to resolve the impasse - he is now deeply wary of the quango.
Setting out his current view in blunt terms, he said: “I think that engaging with the Parades Commission is almost pointless...I think that they have just lost it totally at the minute.”
And the most senior Orangeman in Portadown warned against any assumption that after 18 years the still weekly protest would fizzle out.
He said: “The resolve of Portadown District to remain on protest is as strong today as it was back in 1998...[even though] since the last Drumcree march we reckon that Portadown District has changed by about 40 to 50% with men dying and new members coming in. The resolve is still there.”
A spokesperson for the Parades Commission said: “The divisive legacy of the Drumcree parading dispute is well understood by everyone involved. Information provided to the Commission, including an independent report in 2014, has highlighted the extent of these divisions and found that the dispute is for many communities linked to a number of traumatic events during the Troubles.
“The Commission continues to keep under review all aspects of the dispute, including maintaining contact with a wide range of stakeholders. The Commission has consistently encouraged all parties to agree an agenda for dialogue.”