Orange anger is directed at parades chief

NORTHERN Ireland Parades Commission chief Roger Poole and its Protestant members yesterday faced calls for them to stand down after Orangemen were banned from marching down a nationalist area.

The call came as the Orange Order’s annual Drumcree Parade in Portadown, Co Armagh, passed off without incident.

Portadown District Master Darryl Hewitt demanded the resignations after around 400 Orangemen were, for the ninth time running, blocked from returning from a church service in Drumcree through the nationalist Garvaghy Road.

He told the marchers: “Once again we are disappointed by the negative determination from that unaccountable body, the Parades Commission.

“This is even more the case when we remember both the public and indeed private utterances of the Secretary of State (for Northern Ireland, Peter Hain) who promised us in Portadown and the wider Orange family that this is a new commission with new ideas and a new urgency on parading.

“However I have in my possession the same old no determination from a ‘No Parades Commission’.

“The call must go out today from this platform and indeed from Drumcree Hill for so-called Protestants who are members of the ‘No Parades Commission’ to back their culture, heritage and traditions or else do the honourable thing and resign from this biased, discriminatory anti-parading body.”

The last time Orangemen were able to walk down the Garvaghy Road was 1997.

There was a sizeable police presence yesterday but security measures were much more low-key than when the Drumcree dispute was at its height.

While there were Land Rovers deployed at sensitive flash-point areas around Portadown and a helicopter hovered over the church, there were no soldiers and no heavy fortifications or barbed wire to keep the Orangemen at bay from the nationalist community.

On the nationalist side, there were only a handful of observers as the Orangemen made their way to Drumcree church for their annual Battle of the Somme memorial service.

Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition spokesperson Breandan Mac Cionnaith claimed Drumcree was now a dead issue.

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