PORTADOWN Orangemen have been granted permission to stage a religious service in Portadown People’s Park.
Councillors last night controversially voted to allow the service to take place on the same night as Portadown’s annual Mini-Twelfth next month.
The decision has been described as “an act of unionist political madness” by the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition (GRRC) spokesman Breandán Mac Cionnaith.
He said the group are taking legal advice in a bid to stop the service taking place.
The council’s leisure services committee had previously voted not to allow the service, but this was overturned during a stormy full council meeting on Tuesday night.
“The decision taken by Craigavon Borough Council to grant the Orange Order use of the public park in Portadown for a so-called ‘prayer meeting’ in June on the same evening that the mini-12th will take place in the town is a nothing less than act of unionist political madness. This overtly political and sectarian decision will unnecessarily stoke up tensions in the town. Loyalist protests in Portadown connected to the ‘flags issue’ have already caused heightened feelings of apprehension,” said Mr Mac Cionnaith.
“The park in question lies between the Garvaghy Road and Obins Street and is surrounded by nationalist homes. Orange Order marches which previously took place through these areas led to intense community conflict resulting in those marches being re-routed.
“The nationalist community in Portadown has never experienced any positive relationships with the Orange Order. Given the history of the those relationships, it is quite obvious this decision by council and the proposed Orange Order event, which could see well over 1,000 Orangemen and an unknown number of supporters attending, will only exacerbate sectarian tensions, rather than reduce them.”
For the full story see this week’s Portadown Times.