SECRETARY of State Owen Paterson attended his first-ever ‘Scarva Day’ on the Thriteenth and was suitably impressed by the experience.
Speaking at Scarvagh House during the march-past of 3,000 members of the Royal Black Institution, Mr Paterson told the Portadown Times, “I have just walked past about 25,000 people (along the Scarvagh Demesne) and there were four police officers, spending their time chatting to the crowds. There are about 4,000 loyalist parades in Northern Ireland, with trouble at a tiny minority. Most are peaceful and good-natured, and this occasion – with an estimated 100,000 people in the village – is a shining example. I congratulate everyone concerned.”
Tourism Minister Arlene Foster, who accompanied Mr Paterson, commented, “Both the Twelfth and the Thirteenth were celebrated in wonderful weather and we are grateful for that. The atmosphere at Scarva – which attracts the biggest crowd of any event in the Northern Ireland calendar – is fantastic. The villagers are so welcoming and people come year after year to savour this occasion. It’s so friendly and it’s unique.”
Mrs Foster was speaking while King William (alias John Adair) and King James (alias Colin Cairns) and their orange and green bedecked troops were squaring up for the annual Sham Fight in the shadow of Scarvagh House. The ‘field’ was crammed with supporters and children enjoying the funfair facilities. And Sovereign Grand Master of the Black Institution, Millar Farr, was preparing to deliver a hard-hitting speech against gay marriages.
‘Kings’ Adair and Cairns are both members of the Scarva RBP 1000 (Sir Knight Alfred Buller Memorial – whose descendants still inhabit Scarvagh House). They organise the annual extravaganza, and Grand Master Wilson Jordan – part of the march-past group – was delighted that things had gone so well.
Portadown was led by District Master Robert Wallace who thanked the members of the public supported them in Scarva and Portadown and who donated to their ongoing charity appeal for the Alzheimer’s Society.