Orange plan Christmas Day parade at Drumcree

PORTADOWN Orangemen are hoping to finally complete their parade from Drumcree… on Christmas Day!

For December 25 just happens to be on a Sunday, and, just as they have every other week, members of Portadown District LOL No.1 have applied to parade back from the church to Carleton Street via the Garvaghy Road.

While a parade is unlikely, Orangemen are adamant that if the Parades Commission once again rules against them they will hold their weekly protest, as they have done from 1998.

David Jones, District secretary, has applied for a parade back to Carleton Street via the Garvaghy Road for every Sunday between now and the end of the year, including Christmas Day.

The applications are for a parade of around 600 people with two bands, from Drumcree Road to Carleton Street via Garvaghy Road, Parkmount, Victoria Terrace, Castle Street, Bridge Street, High Street, Market Street and Church Street.

The Parades Commission has already banned this Sunday's parade from entering the Garvaghy Road and the determination on the Christmas Day parade is expected on December 15.

Mr Jones said that those who have suggested the parade application is a ploy are badly misguided.

He said, "They do not realise that we apply for a parade each and every Sunday and when an application is turned down we then hold a protest.

"This has happened every Sunday since we were banned from returning to Carleton Street along the Garvaghy Road and will continue until that right is restored.

"Christmas Day just happens to be on a Sunday this year but that will not change our plans. I think we have protested on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day before as well as Easter Sunday so this won't be any different.

"If we are again banned from returning along the Garvaghy Road then we will hold a protest, just as we always have."

Mr Jones added that he has received no information on the Parade Commission's plans to appoint a mediator to resolve the dispute.

"There has been no movement at this point in time," he said. "There are changes coming up, with a new chairman of the Parades Commission set to be appointed at the end of the year while the future of this unaccountable quango is being looked under the Review of Public Administration.

"But, whatever happens, we are up for the challenge and are not running away. It is about time people realise that."