Page last updated at 11:50 GMT, Thursday, 26 June 2008 12:50 UK

Order critical of Adams meeting

Orangemen in Portadown in 2001
Orangemen and supporters pictured in 2001 at a security barrier

The Orange Order has criticised its Portadown members for meeting Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams.

Grand Lodge said they had heard about the meeting through the media.

Orangemen have been banned since 1998 from parading down the mainly nationalist Garvaghy Road during their annual parade from Drumcree church.

Grand Lodge said it understood Portadown members' frustrations but it did not believe "clandestine meetings" were in the Order's best interests.

Mr Adams and members of Portadown District held face-to-face talks last week.

Mr Adams said: "We had an informative and useful discussion about Orangeism and its place in modern Ireland."

Portadown district master Darryl Hewitt said they hoped the talks could help to resolve the long-running dispute.

"It was just another step that Portadown District Officers have taken to try and seek a resolution to the impasse," he said.

"We have to wait and see what developments, if any, come out of it."

The timing of these meetings is both suspicious and unhelpful
Dolores Kelly
Before 1998, attempts to ban the parade from going down the road resulted in loyalist rioting both in Portadown and across Northern Ireland.

However, when the 1998 march was forced through the Garvaghy Road it sparked republican rioting.

Mr Adams said he made it clear there was "no rationale for an Orange parade along the Garvaghy Road" and "urged them to involve themselves in a process of inclusive dialogue" with residents.

"For a number of years I have written to the Orange Order offering dialogue around the issue of contentious parades. Recently representatives of the Portadown Orange sought to meet with me," he said.

The SDLP's Dolores Kelly said Garvaghy Road residents would be "concerned that they may be bought and sold as the price for some kind of wider political fix".

"It must be said that set against the backdrop of DUP deals for votes over 42-day detention in Westminster, the timing of these meetings is both suspicious and unhelpful," the Upper Bann assembly member said.

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