Loyal order Portadown parade avoids nationalist areas
A LOYAL order parade through Portadown next month to mark the 500th anniversary of the Protestant reformation is set to avoid nationalist areas.
In the past, the town has been at the centre of a bitter parades dispute that saw the Orange Order banned from travelling through the mainly nationalist Garvaghy Road district two decades ago.
The parade, which is being jointly organised by the Orange Order and Royal Black Institution, has been organised to mark the 500th anniversary of the Protestant reformation, which was instigated by Martin Luther in October 1517.
Members of the Apprentice Boys, Association of Loyal Orange Women of Ireland, Independent Orange Institution, Grand Royal Arch Purple Chapter and Junior Association are also expected to take part in the parade.
The Co Armagh town has been at the centre of parade disputes for decades.
Orangemen have been banned from marching along Obin Street since 1985 and Garvaghy Road since 1998.
The same year loyalists killed three Catholic children, Richard Quinn (11) Mark Quinn (9) and Jason Quinn (7) in Ballymoney, Co Antrim, in a fire bomb attack linked to the Garvaghy Road dispute.
The last time the main order walked on Garvaghy Road was in 1997, at the height of the Drumcree crisis.
Despite the passing of two decades, the order continues to apply to the Parades Commission to walk through the nationalist district each week.
Next month's parade, which will involve more than 38 bands, will end in a religious service at Shamrock Park in the town.
SDLP assembly member Dolores Kelly said "we recognise people's right to parade and hope the thing passes off peacefully".
Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Edward Stevenson, said: "We hope this event will be an impressive expression of our shared Christian ethos as we come together with members of the other loyal orders to collectively convey our faith, and remember and celebrate one of the most momentous events in history five centuries ago."