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BBC NI's Mervyn Jess reports:
"The Ulster Unionist ministers said they felt the proposal had the potential to resolve the dispute"
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Thursday, 5 July, 2001, 13:17 GMT 14:17 UK
'New proposal' on Drumcree parade
Orangemen have been barred from Garvaghy Road
Orangemen have been barred from Garvaghy Road
It has been revealed that the Orange Order has put new set of proposals aimed at resolving the Drumcree dispute to the Parades Commission.

It follows a meeting on Thursday morning between the commission and a delegation led by two Ulster Unionist assembly ministers.

Stormont ministers Sir Reg Empey and Michael McGimpsey and senior Orangeman David McNarry met the commission for an hour on Thursday morning.

When they emerged they revealed that new proposals had been tabled by the Orange Order on the controversial Drumcree parade in Portadown, County Armagh.

The commission made an initial ruling on Monday, that the annual Orange Order parade should not march along the nationalist Garvaghy Road, after hearing representations from a number of groups.

Click here for parade route

However, following a representation by unionist councillors from Craigavon Borough Council on Tuesday which included leading Orangeman David Jones, the commission agreed to review its decision.

It further delayed the outcome of its formal review to hear the submission from Sir Reg and Mr McGimpsey.

Sir Reg described the plan as a "quantum move forward and a serious and genuine attempt to resolve the dispute".

Sir Reg Empey is to put proposal before commission
Sir Reg Empey is to put proposal before commission
The proposals are understood to suggest that the Orangemen would enter into discussions in some kind of civic forum, which would include Garvaghy Road residents this Saturday, before the parade.

However, this would only happen if the commission decided to let the parade go ahead along its proposed route including the Garvaghy Road.

Sir Reg said: "I believe it contains within it the potential of a way forward. It has additional dimensions to it that have not appeared in any submissions that I have heard of, or seen, before."


Earlier on Thursday, Orange deputy district master of Portadown David Burrows said there was always hope the commission would change its mind, but past decisions did not give them hope.

He challenged the commission to seriously consider the proposal.

David Burrows Portadown Orange lodge
David Burrows: Not hopeful of changing parade decision
It is understood Sir Reg and Mr McGimpsey also discussed the Orange Order's planned main demonstration in Londonderry on 12 July and a parade in Keady, County Armagh.

If the commission does not change its decision as a result of the review, it will be the fourth consecutive year the Orange parade has been re-routed.

The Protestant order wants to use the route on its return journey from a service at Drumcree church on Sunday, but this is opposed by nationalist residents.

As well as meeting delegations from the Ulster Unionist Party, DUP, Sinn Fein and the SDLP, the commission also met with a number of community representatives including the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition.

Last year, protests in support of the Orangemen led to widespread disruption as roads were blocked and loyalist rioting marked several nights of violence throughout the province.

RUC assistant chief constable
Alan McQuillan: Optimistic about peaceful summer
The trouble included a gun salute by members of the loyalist paramilitary Ulster Freedom Fighters in a loyalist estate in Portadown.

However, RUC Assistant Chief Constable Alan McQuillan, who also met the commission on Thursday morning, said he was "optimistic" that there would be no serious violence this year.

Mr McQuillan said the commission had asked the RUC to give advice on the forthcoming 12 July parades.

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See also:

03 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Police injured during rioting
02 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Security fears at Drumcree
02 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Appeal for Drumcree calm
01 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Protestants prepare to march
30 Jun 00 | Northern Ireland
'Nothing new' in parade proposals
01 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
Minor clashes over Orange parade
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