CAIN Web Service - Parades and Marches
Letter from County Armagh Grand Orange Lodge
Text: Martin Melaugh ... Research: Fionnuala McKenna
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The following text of the lettes sent to the residents of the Gravaghy
Road, from the County Armagh Grand Orange Lodge, appeared in local newspapers
on Thursday 5 June 1997.
We are writing to all the residents of the Garvaghy Road area to explain
our position about the annual walk by members of Portadown District Orangemen
from the service of worship at Drumcree parish church in July.
This is a sincere and genuine attempt to deal with the many misconceptions
concerning the walk and there are a number of points we would like to make
for your information:
1. The service on the first Sunday in July is partly to remember those
who died at the Battle of the Somme in 1916. We pay tribute to all those
of both communities who dies for the cause of peace and justice.
2. The Orange Order is traditionally a parading organisation. We see
our parade as an outward witness to our sincere belief in the Reformed
Faith. For that reason, we see attacks on our parades as both a denial
of civil liberties and an attack on our religion. For us, this is as distressing
as the disgraceful protest - which we unreservedly condemn - outside Harryville
3. In the interests of harmony, mutual respect and reconciliation the
Orange Order has acknowledged objections raised by the nationalist community
and has already implemented the following principles for the Drumcree Church
a. The number of parades in the area has been reduced from ten to one
in the past ten years.
b. Only members of Portadown District parade.
c. No bands take part which could be perceived as antagonistic to our
nationalist neighbours. Accordion bands lead the parade playing hymn music
that is common to both traditions.
d. The Orangemen walk four abreast so that the walk will pass in any
one given point in less than five minutes.
e. The Order marshals and disciplines its own members to ensure there
will be no confrontation on our part. If this was reciprocated, then there
would only be a need for a minimal police presence.
f. The right to walk peacefully and in a dignified manner and the right
to protest in a peaceful and dignified manner should not be denied to anyone.
It is the sincere hope of the Orange Order that the vast majority of
the people of Portadown will work together in a new spirit of tolerance
to defeat extremists who want confrontation this summer.
As a matter of principle, we cannot be involved in talks with convicted
terrorists because of what they have inflicted on our community. But we
do want to listen to all those within the community who want to promote
harmony and mutual respect among the people of Portadown and would welcome
constructive comments which should be sent to the following address:
Co Armagh Grand Orange Lodge, c/o House of Orange, 65 Dublin Road, Belfast
We sincerely hope that this letter will go some way towards building
up intercommunity confidence and respect so that we can look forward not
only to a peaceful summer but to a more peaceful and tolerant era for all
the people of our land.
Denis J Watson William T Bingham, County Grand Master, County Grand