Parades Commission turning a deaf ear to Orange concerns – Lockhart

Upper Bann MP Carla Lockhart has met with the Parades Commission today, ahead of the annual Portadown District LOL 1 parade from Drumcree Parish Church this Sunday.

By Carla Lockhart MP

Upper Bann

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Speaking after the meeting, the DUP representative said:

“What is becoming increasingly clear is that the Parades Commission has no desire to ever see a resolution to this issue that will see any Orange parade proceed along Garvaghy Road.

That can be the only conclusion when one considers that those who are willing to engage in dialogue, namely Portadown District, continue to be penalised whilst those who refuse to engage in mediation secure determinations from the Commission in their favour.

I raised the ongoing frustration amongst the wider community in Portadown at the lack of any intent by the Commission and residents to find any form of accommodation or compromise. It is deeply damaging to community relations and trust building at a community level.

Furthermore, I pressed the Commission on their determination and the weight it gives to the likelihood of public disorder if a parade was facilitated in deciding to ban the Orange procession from returning home. Unfortunately no clarification was offered from the Commission as to the basis for this assessment - whether it was informed by the PSNI, or whether indeed it came from those purporting to represent local residents. Such a blasé attitude to concerns around the basis for such a worrying threat is a sad indictment on the Commission.

The Parades Commission has never had the confidence of the PUL community, and certainly today’s meeting did nothing to change the perception that those who show hostility to parades, and where the threat of violence exists, will always find favour with the Commission, whilst those who are committed to the peaceful demonstration of their rights and culture receive a deaf ear from the Commission.”

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