Craigavon Council is set to ask the Parades’ Commission to set up a new initiative – similar to one in north Belfast‘s Ardoyne – aimed at resolving the long-running Drumcree dispute in Portadown.
Orange Order parades have been banned from the Garvaghy Road since 1998 but, while violent scenes of the past have not been replicated in recent years, weekly protests are still held by members of Portadown District.
“I know there’s a small number of people who think that the problem has gone away,” the Ulster Unionist Party‘s Colin McCusker said, having put forward a motion on the issue on Tuesday night.
“But for the 900 members of Portadown District, their families and supporters, this problem still persists.
“We’ve had over 5,000 protests now – it’s still ongoing and I want to see a resolution to it.”
But according to the Garvaghy Road Residents’ Coalition, the issue has already been resolved.
Spokesman Breandan MacCionnaith told UTV: “Coming from the viewpoint of this community, Drumcree has been solved.
“There have been many initiatives over the years – I can’t see what another one’s going to bring to the table.”
He added: “The Orange Order knows that they have a perfectly acceptable, viable route to take them back from Drumcree church into the town centre.”
But Portadown’s District Master Darryl Hewitt disagrees.
“I think any dispute, if one side is not happy with the outcome, then the situation hasn’t been resolved,” he said.
Portadown District certainly are not happy with the current situation and we seek to get a resolution that suits everybody – we have said for these past five years that we’re willing to meet anybody with no pre-conditions.
“And that includes the Garvaghy Road residents.”
The UUP’s motion that the council write to the Parades’ Commission was backed by the DUP and Alliance Party, but opposed by Sinn Féin and the SDLP.
SDLP councillor Joe Nelson said that his party didn’t feel that mediation had worked in the past.
“Unless there’s some new and radical thinking coming forward, we don’t believe that the north Belfast model is particularly going to work in Portadown,” he added.
The motion was passed by majority vote and a letter will be sent to the Parades’ Commission.
WITH MANY THANKS TO : UTV News
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