A bit late, but still worth sharing more widely: below the fold there’s a statement, first issued late on Tuesday night by the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition in Portadown:
Since 1998, and particularly from the start of this millennium, the rerouting of contentious marches away from the Garvaghy Road and Obins Street by the Parades Commission has meant that our community and the wider community has enjoyed successive peaceful summers. The clouds of humiliation and fear, tension and violence, and the physical sieges of our community that accompanied those sectarian marches, have also disappeared. Residents in our neighbourhoods now enjoy family and community life in relative peace and tranquillity. Our community has moved on others need to do likewise.
Just over 18 months ago, an overwhelming majority of local residents signed a community petition which supported the view that a less contentious alternative route to accommodate such marches exists along the Corcrain and Dungannon Roads.
“Continued insistence by some, or any appeasement of the view, that only an Orange march along the Garvaghy Road can form “a resolution” demonstrates a complete disregard for the views of those who would be most directly affected residents and our families.
Given the widespread concern, apprehension and fears which are being openly expressed by many within our community in recent days, the GRRC feels that it has no choice but to make the following intervention at the present time.
We wish to point out that the Derry model currently being mooted by the media and political commentators as a possible ‘solution’ was previously proposed for Portadown by the British government over a decade ago. Documentary evidence exists to substantiate this fact.
“That proposal was also withdrawn by the British Government as unworkable when it was shown that the representation on such a political and civic forum would, in fact, have favoured the pro-Orange Order lobby and placed nationalists in Portadown at a distinct disadvantage.
Furthermore, proponents of the Derry model have yet to answer the most basic question themselves – would such a forum or apparatus have achieved “a resolution” had it been dealing with contentious parades through major residential areas, rather than parades through the commercial part, of that city.
“We would also, finally, point out that, at no time since 1998, has the Orange Order in Portadown ever sought to legally challenge the validity of the route restrictions imposed upon it in respect of planned marches through Obins Street or Garvaghy Road. That fact alone speaks volumes regarding the Orange Order’s unreasonable and indefensible demands.”
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty