Warning over Drumcree march
Warning over Drumcree march

The 32 County Sovereignty Movement has claimed that the Drumcree parade in Portadown is likely to go ahead this year for the first time in 11 years.

The statement from the hardline republican political group called on residents of the nationalist Garvaghy road enclave in Portadown to resist attempts to negotiate an agreement for a parade by the Protestant Orange Order.

The hugely controversial ‘coat-trailing’ route saw massive disorder and violence in the mid 1990s. Garvaghy residents began peacefully blocking the parade route in the pursuit of dialogue but were subject to violent assaults by the RUC police to force the parade through.

The rerouting of Drumcree parades by the Parades Commission in recent years has brought peace to the annual confrontation, which still continues in a token manner.

“The 32csm in north Armagh take this opportunity to urge the republican and nationalist communities in Portadown and the surrounding area to prepare for the probable forcing of the sectarian Orange march down the Garvaghy Road this year,” the statement said.

“We believe that there is currently a behind-the-scenes effort by some within the community to manufacture a consensus for this very outcome.

“It may be that one of the conditions for the continuation of the smooth administration of British rule in Stormont is to resolve this issue in a way favourable to the Orange Order and ultimately at the expense of the republican base and the wider nationalist community.”

And, in a rebuff to Sinn Féin, the statement added: “We call on local people not to rely on the establishment parties but instead organise themselves to oppose this sectarian and triumphalist parade.”

Meanwhile, the Parades Commission will rule this week on the controversial annual Whiterock march in the absence of any agreement between nationalist residents and the Orange Order’s No.9 Lodge.

Up to 1,000 loyalists are expected to try to march through the Workman Avenue gate on June 28 and make its way along the mainly nationalist stretch of the Springfield Road in west Belfast.

Unlike the ‘Tour of the North’ parade in north Belfast, an attempt at mediation has failed to reach a compromise on the intended route.

In 2005 the march resulted in some of the worst scenes of public disorder in recent years after Orangemen and their supporters went on a rampage in violent clashes that spread across the North.

Springfield residents spokesman Sean ‘Spike’ Murray said that a compromise put forward by nationalist residents on the proposed route had to date been rejected by the Orange Order.

“What we would say is that following the violence back in 2005 this march should not be permitted to pass through the Workman Avenue gate,” he said.

“The route through the Mackies complex has once again been offered as a compromise by nationalist residents.

“There has been one meeting which failed to reach agreement and so we will be meeting with the Parades Commission on Wednesday.”

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