Several hundred Orangemen and loyalist bands were stopped by PSNI police at Drumcree Bridge in Portadown on Sunday as the annual confrontation over a sectarian march passed off without incident.
The Orangemen once again refused to march an alternative route into the town centre away from the nationalist Garvaghy Road enclave.
It is now being speculated that the Orangemen will try to open talks with nationalists almost immediately to allow for the possibility of a parade in September in time for the retirement of Drumcree rector, the Rev. John Pickering.
However Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition (GRRC) spokesman Breandan Mac Cionnaith cautioned against any ‘quick fix’ solution.
“We are happy that the march passed off without incident and we remain committed to all parties engaging in direct dialogue without pre-conditions,” he said.
“However, we are disappointed to learn from media reports that the Order is trying once again to impose deadlines on the process.
“The commission has already said that it will not accept deadlines.”
Mr Mac Cionnaith said that nationalists had still not received the names of possible talks chairmen, such as former premiers Albert Reynolds or John Major, despite media speculation.
“We have been involved in various processes over 10 years,” he said.
“The commission has indicated that it is working to set up the mechanisms. We will wait to hear back from them.
“It is unhelpful for anyone to try and impose a deadline before the process even gets under way.”
BNP AT WORK
The racist British National Party (BNP) is to use the annual Twelfth of July Orange marching season to attract new members from the ranks of the Orange Order.
BNP spokesman Dr Phil Edwards said his party would be taking advantage of the Twelfth of July period to enrol new members. “The BNP doesn’t recruit, armies recruit. We are inviting people to join,” he said.
However, the Protestant marching organisations said yesterday that “fascist organisations were not welcome at Twelfth parades”.
Sinn Féin Assembly member Martina Anderson said there were 936 racist incidents in the past year, double the total for the previous two years. She said some loyalists were behind a significant number of racist attacks and that unionist politicians should be doing more to address that problem.
Alliance Assembly member Anna Lo, originally from Hong Kong, said that racism was not a new phenomenon in Northern Ireland. “A couple of years after I arrived in the 70s I was kicked in Belfast City Centre in broad daylight walking to catch a bus to go home,” she said. She said racism was on the increase in Northern Ireland and that a policy of “zero tolerance” must be pursued.
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said “no part of society has a monopoly on racism and we must act to eradicate it as quickly as possible”.
The BNP also intends standing candidates in the 2011 Assembly elections, a spokesman said.