Around 30 people from the Twaddell Avenue march dispute in North Belfast were at Drumcree on Sunday to support the Portadown Orange District parades dispute.
Led by Belfast County Grand Master George Chiddick, they joined the weekly protest from Drumcree Parish Church down to the police lines at the bottom of The Hill, to take part in the usual short ceremony, conducted by District Chaplain Cecil Allen.
Said Portadown District Master Darryl Hewitt, “Each week it takes the form of a short service – a prayer and a Bible reading, and the challenge to the PSNI sergeant was made by District Secretary David Jones.
“We were delighted that the Twaddell Avenue people swelled our numbers to over the 60 mark. This was a reciprocal visit after we travelled to Belfast around the Christmas period to support their protest in North Belfast.”
The Belfast group carried their bannerette during the protest march, and Mr Chiddick said that they were delighted to be part of the Drumcree protest for the day. He added that both groups were in the same situation “having been denied our civil and religious liberties” by having their march terminated.
He added, “Hopefully we will both have our rights restored and, like Drumcree, we will not cease our protest until those rights are returned.”
There is quite a difference in the length of the protests. The Drumcree protest started after the parade was prevented from returning via the Garvaghy Road in 1998 – a period of 16 years, come July. The Twaddell Avenue stand-off started last July, and is approaching the one-year mark.
The Twaddell Avenue group ended their visit by laying a wreath on the grave of a member of the Twaddell family – William John Twaddell - after whom the Avenue was named. He was a unionist politician, a draper.
Twaddell was a member of Belfast City Council from 1910. He was killed on May 22, 1922, by the Irish Republican Army. Twaddell, who began his life in Portadown, was buried at Drumcree.