Parkmount Arch Committee and unionist politicians have met with the PSNI after the removal of four flags this week.
And when a UVF flag was erected on the arch it prompted a war of words with Sinn Fein councillor Paul Duffy praising “the restraint of the local residents in the face of this blatant provocation”.
The committee claimed yesterday (Thursday) the arch was attacked three times in less than a week. They said they were “dismayed” at the PSNI who it was claimed compared the arch to a lamp post or tree.
Mr Duffy has been accused of “intransigence” by UUP councillors Arnold Hatch and Colin McCusker and by the arch committee, who claim that the removal of flags from the arch, reflects “the sectarianism of the community which has no truck whatsoever with the unionist traditions”.
Mr Duffy said, “This latest action by members of the loyal Orders leaves nobody in any doubt that elements within unionism/loyalism are determined to raise tensions over the Twelfth period.
“The erection of the UVF flag is in keeping with the sectarian comments from unionist elected representatives in recent weeks.
“In contrast, the nationalist community has shown the same reasoned, calm reaction it displayed throughout the DUP and Orange Order attempts to raise tension over the refurbishment of the People’s Park.”
Mr Hatch and Colin McCusker dismissed the statement as “typical intransigence from the Garvaghy community, led by Brendan McKenna, who refuses to engage with the Portadown District LOL No 1, despite the offer of talks being on the table for five years.”
They added, “Despite the efforts of the arch committee to diffuse tension, we see the arch attacked and the flags removed. We condemn these actions and call on the police to deploy whatever resources are available to protect the arch and ensure that relationships within the Portadown area do not continue to deteriorate.”