WITH Drumcree Sunday just over a month away, more pressure has been applied to the NI Parades Commission to facilitate talks between the two sides in the dispute over the return parade via the Garvaghy Road.
Last Thursday Upper Bann MP David Simpson (DUP) hosted a meeting involving Minister of State Hugo Swire and the Portadown District No 1 officers, plus MLAs Sydney Anderson and Stephen Moutray and Craigavon Mayor Alan Carson.
Afterwards, Mr Simpson described the meting as “positive in tone”, although it threw up little new in the way of progress in the way of talks between the Orangemen and Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition. (GRRC).
Portadown District have said they want to sit down with the GRRC, but the prospect still looks as far away as ever.
Mr Simpson said afterwards, “This was a welcome opportunity to follow up previous meetings I have had on the Drumcree-Garvaghy Road issue with both the NI Parades Commission and the Secretary of State. The failure of the parades commission to cease its practice of rewarding intransigence and refusal to talk continues to hold back a resolution.
“This meeting was positive in tone, but of course meetings such as these, while welcome, do not of themselves move the situation forward.”
Portadown District Master Darryl Hewitt was equally measured in his response. “I told Mr Swire what I have been telling everyone else over the past three years - that we simply want face-to-face talk with the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition, but the commission, whose duty it is to facilitate those talks, is sitting on its hands.”
The GRRC has not moved from its stance that the “issue is a dead duck” (chairman Joe Duffy) and this week he expanded on that view in connection with the Junior Orange parade at lower Garvaghy on Saturday.
He said, “One has to publicly pose the question as to why these contentious parades (in reference to the junior parade) are permitted by the Parades Commission.”