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Sinn Féin to meet Parades Commission as anger mounts over Lurgan march

7 March, 2007

A Sinn Féin delegation will meet with the Parades Commission today, Wednesday 7th March at 11.30am at the Commission's offices in Windsor House in Belfast as anger mounts over an Orange march planned for Lurgan on St Patrick's Day.

The major Orange march to mark the re-opening of an Orange Hall in the town, will involve up to 2,000 marchers and fourteen bands, has been described as unnecessary and unwanted by Sinn Féin. The march is planned to commence at 2.15pm in the afternoon and is expected to last until at least five o'clock. The organisers of the march, Lurgan District No.6, have applied for permission to march throughout the town centre. Controversially, the organisers are also seeking the go-ahead for the march route to include all of the predominantly nationalist Church Place and William Street areas, as far as the railway station, where they will turn and re-trace their steps.

Sinn Féin representatives held meetings with Parades Commission representatives on Monday in relation to the march and will be again meeting with the Commission on Wednesday morning.

Local Sinn Féin councillor John O'Dowd said,

"This is clearly a case of the Orange Order attempting to stir up trouble in the town. There is obviously no precedent for this march, and the organisers are deliberately and unnecessarily ratcheting up tension in Lurgan.

"The last march which took place in the town centre on a Saturday afternoon was organised by the Black Institution, and it was widely acknowledged that the march had an extremely negative impact upon trade that weekend. Indeed, one has only to look at some of the comments carried in the local press in the aftermath of that march to confirm that.

"This time, there is the added complexity of the fact, that this march is planned for St.Patrick's Day when many venues will be providing entertainment throughout the day.

"I have no doubt that the organisers, Lurgan District LOL No 6, are attempting to inflame the situation locally and that fact can clearly be seen from the route that they have chosen for this march. Added to all of this is the very public stance taken by Lurgan District LOL in relation to the political process and their complete opposition to the restoration of a power-sharing Executive and Assembly. The fact that this march is being held one week after the election results would point to the fact that Lurgan District LOL is clearly intent on attempting to use the march as a rallying point for all anti-Agreement Unionists.

"From our viewpoint, we have asked the Commission to impose major restrictions on the march. There can be absolutely no justification for this march being allowed to proceed through the town past the junction of Windsor Avenue and High Street. That is what we have been saying to the Commission to date and that is the position that we will be putting to them again on Wednesday morning." ENDS

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