Commission reverses Portadown decision

Published Wednesday, 25 June 2014
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The Parades Commission has reversed its decision on a parade in Portadown, Co Armagh, scheduled for this Saturday.

Commission reverses Portadown decision
Orangemen marched from Drumcree Parish Church and were met by the PSNI in 2012. (© Pacemaker)

Marchers will not be allowed past Victoria Terrace having originally received permission to parade along it as part of a dedication for a loyalist arch in the town.

Two bands and around 200 people were expected to take part in the event, which the Parkmount Arch committee organised.

Nationalist residents had raised concerns with the Commission as they consider Victoria Terrace to be a part of Garvaghy Road, which has been at the centre of a parading dispute for the past two decades.

Despite a low-key annual march, the Orange Order has been banned from marching along Garvaghy Road since 1998.

After making its original decision, the Parades Commission had then requested further information from all parties involved.

A spokesperson on behalf of the Parades Commission said: "Following a review of its determination for this Saturday's proposed parade by the Parkmount Arch Committee in Portadown, the Commission has amended its original determination.

"This follows the receipt of fresh information, including representation on behalf of communities living in the immediate vicinity of the parade."

The statement added: "Having considered this new information, the Commission has issued a revised determination which includes a number of restrictions, including a restriction on route, prohibiting the procession from the lower stretch of the Garvaghy Road, past Victoria Terrace.

"These restrictions recognise the unresolved nature of parading in this area and the Commission considers that the restrictions are just and proportionate.

"The Commission would like to reiterate that this parade does not involve that stretch of the Garvaghy Road which has been subject to restriction since 1998."

The DUP's Upper Bann MP David Simpson said that he will be seeking answers from the Parades Commission over the decision.

Having initially granted permission for this parade they have now conducted an outrageous u-turn and caved at the first sign of opposition by the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition.

DUP MP David Simpson

Mr Simpson said that he spoke with the Commission earlier via video conference from Westminster and has requested a further meeting on Thursday.

"Once again this Parades Commission has been characterised by its weakness," he said.

"The Ordinance Survey maps from Land & Property Services can demonstrate that this parade does not even pass along the Garvaghy Road but along Victoria Terrace. However the Commission appears prepared to believe whatever they are told by those who oppose parades.

"Experience with this Commission to date has been one of weakness and inconsistency. They appear to have no desire to actually move forward but simply to repeat, or even worsen, failures of the past," he claimed.

"This parade in Portadown should be allowed to pass unhindered. It is bizarre and deeply disappointing that the Parades Commission appear content to create a new problem in Portadown where none has previously occurred."

SDLP deputy leader Dolores Kelly has welcomed the reviewed decision.

The Upper Bann MLA said: "At last the Parades Commission has come to the right decision because this was nothing more than a cynical attempt by the applicant to up the ante and pull a fast one in advance of the annual Drumcree parade. Since the initial determination was issued, there has been increased tension and anxiety within the nationalist community.

"It was the right thing to do for the SDLP, with others, to seek a review of the initial determination and for the SDLP to have a face-to-face meeting with the Parades Commission to make the concerns clear and to seek clarity."

The SDLP remains committed to resolution of contentious parades through dialogue with those most affected. We hope there will be a peaceful marching season.

Dolores Kelly, SDLP MLA

Local Sinn Féin councillor Gemma McKenna said: "It's welcome news that the Parades Commission have listened to the views of local residents and elected representatives and produced a fresh determination.

"This ruling prohibits this new parade entering into the Lower Garvaghy Road and Victoria Terrace areas.

"We maintain the view that there is no rationale for any loyal order parade in this area," she added.

"I would call on everyone to do all that they can to reduce tension and to ensure we all have a peaceful summer."

© UTV News
Comments Comments
John in Lurgan wrote (217 days ago):
If the coat-trailing Orange Order couldn't parade past Nationalist homes or businesses they wouldn't have the desire to parade, they only do it to TRY and intimidate....Klu Klux Klan rings a bell.....
Jim in Carrickfergus wrote (217 days ago):
Dee in Newtownabbey i feel just the same stuck in traffic with the PSNI hiding up hills because they have been told to stay away when im just trying to get to the maiden city and Dungiven is shut down while republicans parade down the road showing hatred of all things orange
Patrick in kildare wrote (217 days ago):
Each year I read about the marching season and the contentious routes. I've no issue with parades as it's part of the diverse culture Ireland has and that should be cherished. But why so adamant to go down a road that will only provoke your neighbours? Why not enjoy it and be respectful at the same time? It just seems so pitiful that you should have to refer to a ordinance survey may to try prove a point? Why want to march along a route that is free from provocation?
Michael in Belfast wrote (217 days ago):
If as members of the PUL community keep saying that the PC bow to the threat of violence, how come the OO still hasnt got back up the Crumlin Road following not the threat of violence, but actual loyalist violence for days on end including attempted murder of PSNI officers. And I guarantee there will be more of it this year.
shamrock in Belfast wrote (219 days ago):
Common sense prevails. There must be about 50 miles of roads in the area where they could march and not be contentious!!!
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