WITH five weeks to go until 'Drumcree 14', a new row has erupted over the original outward route - via Obins Street - which Portadown Orangemen have not taken for 25 years.
The Portadown District still applies for the original route out to Drumcree, but has walked the alternative route - via Northway, Corcrain, the Dungannon Road and the Rector's Turns - since the Obins Street route was banned in the mid-1980s.
However, they have refused the alternative route home - the reverse of the outward route - since Garvaghy Road was banned in 1998.
But this month, they received a letter from the NI Parades Commission, telling them that the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition (GRRC) would refuse to enter any sort of talks about the disputed homeward route via Garvaghy Road unless they dropped the Obins Street request from their application form.
Portadown District master Darryl Hewitt said, "I can't discuss it. Correspondence between the commission and ourselves is confidential."
However, a senior Portadown Orangeman said, "It crazy. We apply for Obins Street as a matter of principle, but we haven't tried to walk it since the mid-1980s.
"It isn't an issue anymore, and it certainly is of no concern of the GRRC. They've been avoiding face-to-face talks with us for three years, and this is nothing like a red herring to avoid a solution.
"They're not interesting in resolving the dispute - only their own narrow interests. They'll put any artificial obstacle in the way of mediation.
"Of course, the Parades Commission should be hauling them over the coals for their contempt of our viewpoint - just as they did with the Orange side when we refused talks. We are arranging a meeting with their chairman Rena Shepherd to push harder for talks."
Meanwhile, Brendan MacCionnaith of the GRRC said, "The Portadown Orange District refuses to discuss anything beyond what's on their application form, and the Obins Street route is on it. So we are fully justified in raising the issue."
And a spokesman for the Parades Commission commented, "All we can say is that we are doing our utmost to arrange mediation between the two sides. All correspondence must remain confidential."