Select Committee on Northern Ireland Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 500 - 509)



  500. Again, to make absolute certain I understand what you said a moment ago. That means that you have a semi-optional alternative, are you using only two routes? I realise you have to come back a different route by the route which you go.
  (Mr Dawson) We come back the shortest, most direct route. The main A- class route, the shortest from Drumcree Parish Church to Portadown town centre, the road we traditionally walk.

  501. How much longer is the outgoing route by which you reach Drumcree Church?
  (Mr Dawson) Probably twice as long, roughly.

  502. Really! Apart from the seven and a half mile detour there are no other options; is that right? I ask in part because, of course, in taking evidence from the RUC we did hear about some obligations at an earlier stage, that an earlier route used was no longer used. I may have got that wrong.
  (Mr Dawson) That would have been going out Obins Street, you would come on to Charles Street, irrespectively you end up on Charles Street.

  503. Are there no alternatives, beyond those you currently use, other than the seven and a half mile detour, unless you were to return by the same route by which you came?
  (Mr Dawson) Yes, that would be right.

  504. There is no edge to my question, but this is not an option, to return by the same route?
  (Mr Dawson) It is not an option.

  505. That is for reasons of history.
  (Mr Dawson) For history and probably practically, because the community that lives on the outward route would not allow us to come back that route.

  506. Again I am not seeking to put words into your mouth, has that been tested?
  (Mr Dawson) No. We enjoy living in the community we reside in.

  Chairman: Let me turn to my other colleagues and ask if there is any other questions anybody wants to ask.

Mr Thompson

  507. Is it true that on the way to the church you go through a fairly Nationalist area and that you would not go through that type of area on the road back into the Garvaghy Road? Is that not the situation?
  (Mr Burrows) Yes, the outward journey is pretty Nationalist, this has been over the years. When that part of the Garvaghy Road was built 20 odd years ago it was 50/50, then we saw in the early 1970s Protestants were moved out of their houses. On that part of the road you would see two or three cars on a normal Sunday: for anybody to be offended on that day they would have to go out of their way to be offended. It is mostly walls, there may be half a dozens places which face on to the road. Just as my colleagues Nigel said earlier on about going back the other way, I think the Protestant people of Portadown would not be too happy if we turned our backs on that and decided to go the other way. That is why it would not be worth leaving the town, they would see that as bowing down to threats we have had on our parade. Being a church parade I can only stress we find it hard for anyone to be offended. I know you were in the country on 12 July last year. This is a church parade, with no banners, we have no bands at all. We wonder how that is offensive to people?


  508. Thank you very much, indeed, for your patience in dealing with those final questions. We will ourselves look at a map. If there is any possibility of our misunderstanding what you have said to us in evidence we will come back. I hope I will be able to understand it when the clerk and I have a look at the map together. Thank you very much, indeed, on behalf of the whole Committee for all of the evidence, which has been concise and clear. We are very much obliged.
  (Mr Dawson) Once against on behalf of the Portadown District we welcome the opportunity of speak to you. Should there be any queries, please do contact us. We can provide you with a map, if necessary, outlining the routes outwards and inwards. So that it is very clear the Portadown District would reiterate to you, gentlemen, what I reiterated and the District has over the five difficult years we have found ourselves in in Portadown. Our District wants one simple thing, a just, honourable and lasting solution to the Garvaghy Road. I look forward to when I can walk down the Garvaghy Road with a piece of orange material round my neck. When I take it off I can walk down the Garvaghy Road: it is hard to understand why someone objects to me going home from church. It is a very simple task that that legislation and the Parades Commission fails to understand and show respect of our culture.

  509. If I may I will take up your kind offer to provide a map with the appropriate journeys because it is thus beyond per adventure: you will know precisely where the route should be recorded and avoids any possibility of mistake on our part.
  (Mr Dawson) I will leave the Portadown LOL No 1 information pack. It gives you facts on housing in the Garvaghy Road, you might find it very interesting[2].

  Chairman: Thank you very much, you have enlarged our debt.

2   See the List of Unprinted Papers, p viii Back

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