SEPARATE calls for calm have come from the PSNI, the Orange Order and the Garvaghy Road community as fears rise over the prospect of disorder occurring over the ‘Twelfth’ period.
Last year’s July celebrations were overshadowed by violent scenes at the interface between Edgarstown-Corcrain and Obins Street and Inspector Phil Shepherd of the Portadown Neighbourhood Policing Team has warned of possible attempts to stir up fresh trouble.
The police stepped up their presence in the interface area this week as Inspector Shepherd said he was aware of “rumours circulating in local neighbourhoods about plans for disorder and unrest over the Twelfth period”.
Inspector Shepherd said he believed this to be a “concerted effort to raise tensions”.
He added, “Nobody wants to see a return to the disorder of last year where communities suffered from the actions of a minority. It is every individual’s right to be able to enjoy a public event without the fear of disorder.”
Darryl Hewitt, Portadown Orange District Grand Master, said, “Portadown District would appeal for all people in Portadown to remain calm during this season’s events. It should be remembered that there were over 6,000 people in the town centre last Saturday night for the unveiling of the Covenant Centenary Obelisk - proving that large, successful events can, and are, run well and without incident. We would appeal for all to resist the temptation, if any exists, to get involved in disturbances of any nature”.
Inspector Shepherd was speaking after a series of events over the past week underlined the division in Portadown.
The most stark was the Edenderry bonfire which was set alight on Monday of last week, after which two young men allegedly responsible were reported to have fled the country.
A large picture of one of the alleged arsonists was placed at the top of the replenished fire on Monday of this week, with the words ‘Burn, baby, burn’ beside it. Hundreds of people attended the bonfire night.
On Saturday, after the Parkmount Arch was erected in the mainly nationalist area, four loyalist flags were removed and replaced by a tricolour, which led to the police being called and the original flags being replaced.
On Tuesday, after a Union Flag was attached to the council flag pole in the centre of town - not by the council - Sinn Fein politicians complained to the Equality Commission, they were removed and unofficially replaced again that night.
Inspector Shepherd said his team would continue to work with the various communities, appealing for everyone “to work with police to ensure this year’s events are remembered for the right reasons”.