PORTADOWN Orangemen have reaffirmed they still have not sought permission for their annual Drumcree Sunday parade even though the deadline for applying passed almost three weeks ago and they are just nine days away from the march.

The towns 28 lodges met in Portadowns Carleton Street Orange Hall on Wednesday night some 150 were there and, in a statement afterwards, District Master Darryl Hewitt said: �The mood is angry. The membership is furious that dissident republicans groups can hold walks and gatherings, without even asking the parades commission, and no action is taken by the police.�

This was a reference to Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition GRRC spokesman Brendan McKenna, who is secretary of eirigi and who issued a statement that the group was planning a picket in Belfast tomorrow against Armed Forces Day celebrations in the city.

But Mr McKenna denied that eirigi had, in fact, taken part in any illegal gatherings, and said the picket was �totally within the law�.

Mr Hewitt said: �The Portadown District was unanimous on Wednesday night that we should not seek permission from the Parades Commission for the Drumcree parades. We feel that we have kept to the letter of the law in submitting the 11/1 forms and have got nowhere.�

In fact, the mood of the meeting was that the Orangemen should try to parade out to Drumcree via Obins Street, which was barred to them in the mid-1980s. They have applied for that route ever since, but have paraded the alternative outward route via Northway and Corcrain each year.

Orangemen have also held a protest at Drumcree every Sunday, usually with a lone policeman blocking their path back into Portadown via the Garvaghy Road, which has been banned since 1988.

�We are as determined as ever to complete the parade back in Portadown via the traditional route,� said Mr Hewitt.

This year, however, with the Parades Commission about to be scrapped, and with images in the media of Mr McKenna protesting with eirigi, the Orangemen have upped the ante.

�The mood of the meeting was that we would not apply,� he said, which would therefore make the parades illegal.

�Thats all Im prepared to say.�

Mr McKenna said that the GRRCs solicitor had written to the PSNI chief constable �asking about the police attitude towards parades in Portadown on Drumcree Sunday�.

�Even so, the GRRC would have no problem with the Orange Order taking the route out to Drumcree that they have taken since 1998,� he said.

�As far as we are concerned, the return route issue was resolved.�

A spokesman for the parades commission confirmed that no application has been received from the Portadown District in relation to Drumcree Sunday, but that they would not hold the Portadown District hard-and-fast to the deadline.

Published date on the 25th of June 2010
Article taken from the The News Letter


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