District Master slams parades watchdog

Published Sunday, 29 June 2014
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A senior Orangeman in Portadown has called for the members of the Parades Commission to be sacked after it reversed a determination on a parade in the Co Armagh town.

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Portadown District Master Darryl Hewitt was speaking after the Parkmount Arch Committee decided not to go ahead with its parade on Saturday evening.

Organisers of the event said that, as their intention was to dedicate an arch on Victoria Terrace, going ahead with the procession was pointless.

Earlier this week, the Parades Commission moved to reverse its decision to allow the loyalist parade to proceed past Victoria Terrace.

It reviewed its original determination after nationalist residents said that they consider the street to be part of the Garvaghy Road - which the Orange Order has been banned from marching along since 1998.

Mr Hewitt said that people had been angered by the Parades watchdog's move.

"The whole purpose of the arch was to dedicate the arch, so if they're allowed to dedicate the arch as the Parades Commission won't allow the parade to go to the arch, there isn't much point in parading up Portadown town centre," he said.

"People are very unhappy with what the Parades Commission have done, I would call once again for the Secretary of State to call the chair and the commissioners in to tell them they are not fit for purpose and sack them forthwith."

However, Breandán Mac Cionnaith, from the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition said the community there welcomed the decision not to go ahead with the parade.

"This parade should never have been applied for in the first place. Those behind it and those who support it, knew the reaction it would cause in this community," he said.

He added that there was little chance of talks being held in the run up to the annual contentious Drumcree march as he claimed the Orange Order would only discuss conditions of the parade, which he said was "totally unacceptable".

Meanwhile local Sinn Féin MLA John O'Dowd has praised those who ensured that Saturday night passed off without incident.

"There could very easily have been the wrong decisions made in the heat of the moment. However, the opposite proved to be the case," he said.

"All sides deserve credit for ensuring the night passed off peacefully. It is a credit to all involved that trouble was averted."

© UTV News
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13 Comments
Dorothy in Kansas wrote (94 days ago):
To get to Victoria Terrace you have to march along the Garvaghy Road, so it’s quite clearly mischief making on the part of the Orange Order and anybody who says otherwise is deliberately misrepresenting the facts.
Jo in Belfast wrote (94 days ago):
Orange order do not make the rules. There are systems and laws in place for a reason. So this is how society should work then???..So if we cant get to break the laws we sack everyone who say no. lol.
Michael in Belfast wrote (94 days ago):
Since 2005 parades have doubled. There are currently more registered bands THAN EVER BEFORE. The facts simply don't back up this idiotic idea that "culture is being eroded". The gap between perception and reality is massive and this myth is perpetuated by politicians and the OO to further their own agendas.
Michael in Belfast wrote (94 days ago):
See this accusation "it's eroding our culture" it's absolute and utter nonsense. In recent years there has been an upsurge in marches. There have been more parades in some areas than ever before so let's just put to bed once and for all this nonsense that "our culture is under attack".
Chris in Newtownabbey wrote (94 days ago):
There has to be something give you cant block a community and tradition forever the parades commission is damaging the peace process in a big way
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BRIAN ROWAN
Two comments, spoken tongue-in-cheek, nonetheless summed up the mood and the mire that is Stormont politics.
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