11 June 2005

Daily Ireland

**Go here for background info: The Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition

Mac Cionnaith says ‘Drumcree is dead’

by Ciarán Barnes

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The annual Drumcree march, which at its height brought the North to a standstill, is now regarded as a “dead issue” by nationalists, a Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition spokesman said yesterday.
Speaking to Daily Ireland, Breandán Mac Cionnaith said that “whether the Orange Order like it or not”, a solution has been reached regarding the Drumcree dispute.
The Orange Order is once again planning to march past nationalist homes down the Garvaghy Road in Portadown, Co Armagh, on its route to Drumcree church on July 10.

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The last time Orangemen were permitted to go down the road was in 1997.
Since then, the number of loyalists protesting at Drumcree against the Parades Commission’s refusal to allow them to march the route has fallen from approximately 6,000 in 1998 to 600 last year.
Mr Mac Cionnaith said he saw this as proof that, even in the eyes of Orangemen, the Drumcree dispute was “no longer an issue”.
He said: “In the eyes of Portadown nationalists, Drumcree is a dead issue.
“We have reached a solution whether the Orange Order likes it or not. In a way, there is now a peaceful equilibrium between both sides and we can live with that.
“A decade ago, the very mention of Drumcree would get people’s backs up. Now the majority of people are not in the least bit concerned about it.”

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Mr Mac Cionnaith insisted that the massive drop in the number of loyalist protesters at Drumcree proved that many unionists also viewed the parade as a dead issue.
“During the last couple of years, things have been relatively quiet in Portadown.
“Everyone is happy with the way things are currently.”
The Orange Order is expecting at least 2,000 loyalists to turn up to next month’s Drumcree parade.
The Parades Commission has yet to announce whether it will allow Orangemen down the Garvaghy Road.
However, sources within the organisation claim there is “not a hope” of the Orangemen getting down the road.
Since 1997, a hardcore element of around 20 Portadown Orangemen have appeared at Drumcree church every Sunday demanding to be allowed down the Garvaghy Road.
The Parades Commission has refused every single request.
In previous years, a huge security presence has been drafted into Portadown during the run-up to Drumcree to prevent clashes between loyalists and nationalists.
However, as the march has became less volatile, the security presence has reduced considerably.
During the mid and late 1990s, the Drumcree dispute was the cause of widespread rioting across the North.
The stand-off between Orangemen and Garvaghy Road residents led to the loyalist murders of Portadown Catholics Michael McGoldrick and Robert Hamill, and the deaths of the three young brothers Richard, Mark and Jason Quinn in Ballymoney.
However, there has been little or no violence during the past three years.






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