Supplementary Memorandum submitted by
Mr Brendan McAllister, Director of the Mediation Network for Northern
Mediation and the Drumcree Conflict
The Potential for Intervention in 2000
(Second Edition, January 2001)
Basis of Report
1. The Meaning of Mediation
2. A Chronology of the Drumcree Conflict 1995
3. Current Orange Perspectives
July 1995 Drumcree One
September 1995 June 1996
July 1996 Drumcree Two
September 1996 June 1997
July 1997 Drumcree Three
September 1997 June 1998
July 1998 Drumcree Four
September 1998 June 1999
July 1999 Drumcree Five
September 1999 2000
4. Current Residents' Perspectives
5. Analysis of the Conflict
6. The Direction of the Drumcree Conflict in 2000
7. Difficulties with Mediation
8. The Potential Contribution of Mediation
(i) The Drumcree Conflict: Phases of Evolution via
(ii) Outline Chronology
This report is written in response to a request
from the Parades Commission for my opinion of previous efforts
to resolve the Drumcree dispute and the potential for a resolution
in the future. It is based on my involvement in the parades conflict
since 1995 and contact with individuals on all sides.
The report expresses my professional opinion.
It should not be interpreted as representing, directly or indirectly,
the views of the parties to the Drumcree dispute.
1. THE MEANING
For the purposes of this report I should like
to define mediation in a way which is relevant to the dispute:
Mediation is about assisting communication between
individuals or groups in conflict in order to manage or overcome
estrangement and effect positive change.
The Drumcree conflict involves violence, hurt
and trauma. "Estrangement" means that a person (or group
of persons) is turned away from another and is alienated. When
estrangement becomes more manageable, conflict can be managed
or, even, transformed in ways which are positive. When estrangement
is overcome, conflict can be resolved. Mediators do not resolve
conflicts. Rather, they make a contribution to the management
or resolution of conflicts. Other factors have a bearing, to a
greater or lesser extent, depending on the situation. Of course,
the main contributors to the resolution of conflict are the protagonists
Effecting positive change is the ultimate intention
of mediation. Change needs to occur in various ways, depending
on the type of conflict. Generally speaking change can take place
in four ways:
(i) Personal change within the attitudes,
behaviour or "wants" of an individual.
(ii) Inter-personal change between
individuals, ie in relationships.
(iii) Structural change regarding
authorities, the law, institutional provision.
(iv) Systemic change within wider
groups, communities or, indeed, a whole society.
Mediation, has a variety of methods which, however,
share a number of characteristics:
an impartial "Third Party"
presence among people affected by conflict.
a focus on the human dimensions of
attention to the restoration or renewal
the application of strategy or design
to the activity of Conflict Intervention.
the search for a solution which the
parties view as relevant to the situation.
Mediation can discharge one or more of the following
(i) To assist communication.
(ii) To improve understandings.
(iii) To support creative thinking.
(iv) To explore accommodations.
(v) To facilitate agreements.
An "accommodation" differs from an
"agreement" in that the latter requires a greater degree
of harmony and compromise whereas, in an accommodation those in
dispute do enough to "get by each other".
The methodology of mediation falls into three
Formal Mediation, where the mediator
is endorsed by both sides and they meet face to face in an agreed
Intermediation, where the mediator
is endorsed by both sides but they do not meet, though there is
an agreed process. As a go-between, the mediator's task is to
bring information, from one party to another, facilitate separate
discussion and assist further communication.
Conciliation, where a mediation process
is not explicitly established between disputants but in his/her
contact with each side the mediator encourages "inclusive
thinking" as well as offering support.
Considering the definition, characteristics,
functions and methods of mediation which I have just outlined,
in my opinion, there has been little mediation practised to date
in the Drumcree dispute.
2. A CHRONOLOGY
Both sides differ on the origins of this dispute.
From the perspective of one senior Orangeman, it was sparked by
a unionist blockade of a nationalist parade one St. Patrick's
Day in the late 1970s. It then simmered until the Obins St. confrontations
of 1985 1986 and was, in his view, nurtured by Fr Brian
Lennon, S J and the Drumcree Faith and Justice Group on the Garvaghy
Road in the early 1990s.
From the residents' group's point of view, the
origins have been more succinctly stated: "the problem is
as old as the Orange Order".
July 1995 Drumcree One
To the surprise of everyone, the RUC's regional
commander, Assistant Chief Constable Hall, blocked the Drumcree
church parade from the Garvaghy Road in 1995. A stand-off ensued
for over two days. On the second evening, I was invited by ACC
Hall to mediate between the two sides, assisted by my colleague,
Joe Campbell. Our method of intervention was "intermediation",
going between the two sides. There was a positive outcome which
involved the parade proceeding down the Garvaghy Road. Our contribution
involved facilitating communication, improving understandings,
supporting creative thinking and exploring an accommodation.
This was crisis intervention work which was
necessarily crude, but, with hindsight, unnecessarily flawed.
We did not engage Portadown District LOL No
1. We managed to engage only a small number of Orangemen, none
of whom were leaders of Portadown District. Most of our dialogue
on the Orange side was with unionist politicians acting on behalf
of the District Lodge. In the event, we ultimately facilitated
communication between RUC commanders and the Garvaghy Road Residents'
When an accommodation was reached between residents'
leaders and police in our presence, I established a further point
of understanding in an exchange with the acting Deputy Chief Constable
when he stated that there was no question of parades proceeding
without the consent of the local community. This disclosure was
consequently in the minds of residents' leaders when the parade
came down the road.
Due to police concerns for public order in the
deteriorating situation I was left with insufficient time to clarify
final understandings with the Orange Order before the parade went
down the road.
The accommodation, which involved a parade taking
place within a context of greater respect, was short-lived. Orangemen
were largely unaware of the nature of the accommodation. In the
atmosphere of celebration which prevailed among Protestants in
Portadown, it appeared to nationalists that unionist politicians
were triumphalist. They also immediately denied any suggestion
that there had been a compromise.
Therefore, the 1995 mediation effort was inadequate
in the longer term. We had not been able to engage the right Orangemen.
The police public order agenda became paramount. Understandings,
which later became significant, were not clarified, nor properly
secured. Neither side had been required to agree an objective.
For a mediation process to function properly, opposing sides must
adopt much the same agenda.
September 1995-June 1996
Through the winter of 1995 and into 1996, the
Orange Order strategised in order to win "Drumcree Two".
Orange leaders from Armagh County Grand Lodge became involved
and established a disciplined regime among the members. They anticipated
a second stand-off and planned widespread protest. They were suspicious
of everyone, especially people outside of the Order. The residents'
group were viewed as having a sinister, Republican agenda.
Meanwhile, the residents' group were resentful
and increasingly cynical. They had seen their perception of an
accommodation in 1995 immediately de-constructed by the other
side. Contrary to expectations at the end of Drumcree One, Orangemen
refused to enter dialogue. From a nationalist perspective, David
Trimble became leader of the Ulster Unionist Party with a reputation
which seemed, largely, made at Drumcree, yet, he refused to meet
particular Garvaghy Road residents leaders, within his own constituency.
The residents also became increasingly distrustful of the RUC,
viewing them as partisan. Their lack of confidence worsened when,
at a meeting with the Chief Constable, Sir Hugh Annesley, it was
denied that an indication had been given to the Mediation Network
in 1995 that parades would require consent from the local community.
They were also now sceptical about the Mediation Network, whom
they viewed as having assisted the agenda of the police. The residents'
group called for dialogue and began to lobby government.
Efforts by the Mediation Network to engage Portadown
District via unionist politicians and clergy proved ineffective.
In the year between Drumcree One and Two, there was no mediation.
July 1996 Drumcree Two
In 1996, the RUC again decided to block the
parade. There was a stand-off for over four days. The Orange Order's
battle plan swung into operation with massive protests at Drumcree
and disruption across Northern Ireland. There was widespread disorder
and violence and cross community tension. The involvement of loyalist
paramilitaries, particularly the Portadown loyalist, Billy Wright,
became widely observed. A Catholic taxi driver, Michael McGoldrick,
was murdered near Lurgan.
A senior Northern Ireland Office official, John
Steele, acted on behalf of the Secretary of State, Sir Patrick
Mayhew. Mr Steele was in contact with both sides, with exploratory
offers, to no avail.
Archbishop Robin Eames became the chief conciliator.
A meeting was convened at the Ulster Carpets factory on the Garvaghy
Road. According to Orange sources, they agreed to send delegates
on the understanding that Breandan Mac Cionnaith would not be
directly involved. When they discovered his presence at the factory,
By contrast, the residents state that they had
agreed to participate with an expectation that they would engage
with members of Portadown District and that names were exchanged
in advance. In the event, none were there and, before the residents'
leaders had returned to the Garvaghy Road, the parade was being
prepared and police were facing down residents.
For the second time, the activity of mediation
suffered discredit and both sides lost further confidence in it.
Both felt misled about the carpet factory meeting.
Both sides now viewed Archbishop Eames with suspicion, for different
reasons. For his part, the Archbishop was relying on the moral
authority (or clout) of his office to bring the two sides together.
There was no structured mediation process, with no agreed objective
Meanwhile, the conflict itself was becoming
more complex and the number and variety of "players",
or parties, was growing. Drumcree Two ended with a reversal by
the police. After days of building confidence with the residents,
police turned on them and facilitated a parade down the road.
Yet the Orange attitude to the police was also negative. They
were judged for being prepared to oppose the Orange Order in the
September 1996 June 1997
The year between Drumcree Two and Three featured
the "Review of Parades and Marches" under Dr Peter North.
His report eventually led to the establishment of the Parades
Commission, in shadow form, by Drumcree Three. Meanwhile, on the
ground in the Portadown area, relations deteriorated. A 12 year
old Catholic Darren Murray was knocked down while running from
an altercation with loyalist youths in October 1996.
Through the winter and spring, attitudes hardened
On the other hand, Orange leaders felt victorious.
Many brethren believed the war had been won: the right to march
had been restored. Others were concerned about the degree of violence
and disruption in 1996 and feared a recurrence in 1997. Therefore,
with the help of individuals on the Order's Education Committee,
efforts were made to engage in "a mission to explain"
to non-Orange people. This included an open letter to the people
of the Garvaghy Road. Officers of Armagh County Lodge sought an
accommodation. They would try to achieve a parade with consensus
with the residents. However, in this regard, they would not engage
in dialogue with the residents' group and if consensus was not
reached, they would insist on their right to march being enforced.
With a more hardline strategy in mind, the Spirit
of Drumcree group was formed in November 1996 and tension within
the Orange Order began to manifest itself. Orangemen who participated
in a mediation process for Dunloy in County Antrim early in 1997,
were faced down forcefully by the wider membership in County Antrim,
led by individuals associated with the Spirit of Drumcree. The
Dunloy accommodation was disowned. At the Grand Lodge of Ireland,
a motion from Co. Antrim forbidding further mediation was adopted
and became a policy for the whole of the Institution.
On the residents' side, the events of 1996-97
were having a profound effect. Across the Nationalist community
there was deep anger with the RUC for caving in to pressure at
Drumcree Two. There was also anger about the deaths of Michael
McGoldrick and Darren Murray. In May 1997, a Catholic man, Robert
Hamill was fatally beaten on a Portadown street by a group of
loyalists while RUC officers looked on. Sectarian tension on the
ground in Portadown increased.
However, upon its election in May 1997 the new
Labour government gave cause for renewed hope, especially with
the appointment of Mo Mowlam as Secretary of State. Residents
leaders already knew her. She was a hands-on, charismatic politician.
However, many Unionists and Orangemen distrusted her.
In the local government elections, Breandan
Mac Cionnaith topped the poll in Portadown. His GRRC colleague,
Joe Duffy, was also elected with him to Craigavon Borough Council.
In June Constables Graham and Johnston were shot dead by the IRA
With weeks to go before Drumcree Three, proximity
talks were hastily convened at Hillsborough, under the Secretary
of State. However, this proved to be a non-event. Again, there
was no clear structure, no agreed design and no common objective.
Each side found the experience of waiting for long periods in
separate rooms debilitating. The Secretary of State, with the
political authority of her office and closely assisted by the
NIO official, John Steele, kept up efforts to broker a deal until
two nights before Drumcree Sunday.
All of these efforts were aimed at a negotiated
deal, not mediation. Both sides had turned up at Hillsborough
with no confidence in the occasion. For their own reasons, each
felt obliged to be seen to co-operate in an exercise which they
believed to be pointless. With the Portadown District leadership
somewhat at a distance, the chief Orange tacticians were County
Officers. They recall that as Drumcree Sunday approached, they
had reason to worry about Loyalist paramilitary violence breaking
out on a significant scale.
July 1997 Drumcree Three
In the early hours of Drumcree Sunday, police
and soldiers took the Garvaghy Road by force, wearing new dark
boiler suits, balaclavas, helmets and riot gear. There were many
injuries among the residents. The police and army held the road
all morning, sealing in the residents. With St. John's Chapel
inaccessible, a Mass was held in the open air at Churchill Park.
By lunch time, the parade had been forced down the road and the
police and army withdrew amidst rioting on the road.
September 1997 June 1998:
When a so-called "Game-plan" document
was leaked from the NIO in September 1997, the residents lost
confidence in Mo Mowlam. The impression was given that the Hillsborough
Proximity Talks had been an elaborate piece of cosmetics and not
a genuine search for a settlement. There was also an impression
of involvement in the "game-plan" by the new Chairman
of the Parades Commission Alistair Graham, who had also angered
residents with comments about a compromise parade on the Garvaghy
When the Parades Commission received its statutory
powers, the Orange Order dismissed it as a tool to beat them down.
They state that they had been promised a commission with a wider
cultural mandate. They now set their face against any association
In February 1998, a bomb exploded in the centre
of Portadown, causing extensive damage. During this period, the
government were pre-occupied with the final phase of the Talks
Process. However, the Parades Commission struggled to establish
its credibility. With one side ignoring it and the other side
suspicious, the Commission was not helped by resignations and
In April, 1998 the Good Friday Agreement was
Meanwhile, in Portadown a Catholic, Adrian Lamph,
was shot dead by Loyalists.
July 1998 Drumcree Four
In its first year in charge of the parades dispute,
the Parades Commission re-routed the Drumcree parade away from
the Garvaghy Road. They cited the impact on community relations
as the deciding factor. Two days before Drumcree Sunday, the Government
suddenly announced crisis talks, again in proximity form and this
time at Armagh. The Prime Minister's Chief of Staff (and former
diplomat), Jonathan Powell, was drafted in to preside with assistance
from Rev Roy Magee and Peter Quinn.
The day before the Drumcree parade, the sides
were convened at Armagh. Negotiated outcomes were mooted but engagement
was indirect and minimal. Again there was mass protest and renewed
violence. On one night at Drumcree, shots were fired at police
lines and police were injured by blast bombs. After six days of
protest, the stand-off ended amidst acrimony: three young brothers
(the Quinns) were burned to death in an arson attack on their
home in Ballymoney. Rev William Bingham called for the protest
to end. Other Orange leaders followed suit.
Portadown District maintained their protest,
establishing a token presence at Drumcree, led by the District
master, Harold Gracey, from a caravan at the church.
The Drumcree conflict had become ever more complicated.
The number of parties was growing on all sides. Concern was expressed
by three governments: London, Dublin and Washington. The political
agenda of protecting the newly established Good Friday Agreement
was a priority for all three. Drumcree threatened to undermine
the fragile peace. The issue could provoke paramilitaries on all
sides. For the British Government there was a particular concern
about the potential of Drumcree to weaken pro-agreement unionism.
Yet, the Government's intervention was last-minute
and haphazard. Again, there was no design, no agreed objective
and inadequate preparation. The residents perceived the Government
as pre-disposed towards a parade. The Orange Order blamed the
Government for establishing the Parades Commission like an albatross
around its own neck. Across the community, there was consternation
at the deaths of the Quinn children.
Orangemen resented the police for blaming them.
At one demonstration, the Spirit of Drumcree leader, Joel Patton,
publicly rebuked Rev Bingham and jostling took place. Mr Patton
was subsequently expelled.
September 1998 June 1999
With Drumcree Four viewed as a major set-back
for Orangemen, there was increasing militancy within the Orange
Order. A strategy of protest parades and rallies was adopted.
These led to confrontation and at one of these, in October 1998,
Constable Frankie O'Reilly was fatally wounded. Sectarian tension
in Portadown deteriorated. Twelve Catholic families moved out
of the Craigwell Avenue interface. Two Catholic owned shops were
bombed in Portadown. Others were burned and some were picketed.
In March 1999, the residents' solicitor, Rosemary
Nelson, was murdered by Loyalists. Many Nationalists suspected
police involvement in the light of previously publicised allegations
of threats against her from police officers. Residents viewed
the policing of protest parades as inadequate and half-hearted,
noting that no charges were brought for breaches of Parades Commission
rulings. The Parades Commission were also discredited for permitting
the protest parades in the first place. The residents' group resorted
to the courts to highlight inconsistencies in Parades Commission
rulings. In June 1999, Elizabeth O'Neill died in a sectarian attack
by Loyalists on her Portadown home.
Proximity talks led by Jonathan Powell re-convened
late in 1998 but ended inconclusively. Both sides complained about
the experience. They each appealed directly to Downing Street
and met the Prime Minister.
In the Spring of 1999, the Government appointed
a new facilitator, an industrial conciliator, Frank Blair, from
After a period of bilateral assessment, Frank
Blair convened proximity talks at the Interpoint centre in Belfast
but these came to grief when he tabled proposals from Downing
Street which offended the Orange Order. There were also misunderstandings
regarding ground-rules. Again, there was no prior agreement on
an objective, nor on the design of the process. With the Orange
Order continuing to refuse to engage in dialogue, proximity talks
were the preferred format. However, neither side truly valued
this approach and both sides continued to suffer frustration and
a loss of energy from the experience. The GRRC had aired the idea
of a Portadown forum with Jonathan Powell but when civil servants
produced a blue print, the residents did not view the proposed
model as credible because, in their view, nationalists would be,
tactically, in a minority.
Meanwhile, David Trimble had met the residents'
group for the first time. He also encountered Breandan Mac
Cionnaith and Joe Duffy of the residents' group in talks in Craigavon
Civic Centre among local elected representatives which were aimed
at a social and economic agenda.
By this stage there was a clear divergence between
the agendas of the two sides. The residents now insisted on progress
on social and economic issues and on community relations in Portadown.
With Portadown District now much more to the fore within the Orange
side, there was a continued insistence upon a more specific focus
on the Drumcree parade per se.
Another development was the emergence of a team
of political and legal representatives of Portadown District.
There were now two strands of leadership being provided to Portadown
District: one led by the Grand Secretary, Denis Watson and one
led by David McNarry of the Central Strategy Committee.
With Drumcree Five imminent, the political and
legal representatives, along with other Orangemen (but no members
of Portadown District) met residents leaders for direct talks
on a Sunday afternoon at Stormont, chaired by Jonathan Powell.
However, there was renewed dispute about the agenda and, again,
this meeting took place without prior agreement regarding an objective,
or a design.
In the wider context, the Church of Ireland
had, by now, produced a set of principles which were implicitly
critical of the Drumcree parade. Churches hosting parades were
now required to give pledges about their conduct.
Between Drumcree Four and Five, there had been
at least four "talks" initiatives, none of which involved
dialogue between the two principal protagonists: the residents'
group and Portadown District; none of which had a mutually agreed
aim or structure; none of which involved mediators.
July 1999 Drumcree Five
In the run-up to Drumcree Sunday 1999, the Long
March made its way to Portadown from Derry/Londonderry over a
period of days with nightly protest rallies en route.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister had become directly
involved with both sides. He was much exercised by the dangers
which another blocked parade posed for the stability of Unionism
and the fledgling Peace Agreement. According to some Orange leaders,
their contact with the Prime Minister left them feeling confident
that, if they kept protest to a minimum, a parade would follow
before too long.
The Parades Commission re-routed the parade
for the second successive year but Drumcree Sunday became a huge
anti climax for the general public. The army had secured the area
with elaborate engineering and a strong presence along with the
police. However, protest was kept low key. The estimated five
thousand who turned up on the Sunday morning were encouraged to
leave after a short rally. The symbolic protest at the caravan
September 1999 2000
Since the summer of 1999, the role of the team
of "political and legal representatives" of Portadown
District has become more significant. They have met the Parades
Commission and have begun to take cognizance of the particulars
of Commission rulings with a view to demonstrating a genuine effort
to defuse the Drumcree conflict though without engaging in direct
dialogue with the residents' leaders.
Ever mindful of the potential political damage
which Drumcree could visit upon the Peace Process, Downing Street
have persisted with intervention initiatives. At one stage a new
minister, George Howarth, was introduced with a specific remit
for Drumcree but he was given short shrift. His colleague, the
Security Minister, Adam Ingram, appeared initially to fare better
with his efforts to construct a process. However, the residents
had by now totally lost trust in Government led initiatives which,
in their view, were driven by political concerns. They declined
to proceed with Ingram and called for the introduction of an independent
Meanwhile, the Government have established a
review of the Parades Commission and required all of its members
to resign their posts (at the end of their term). This has created
some hope on the Orange side that a more credible body might emerge
while, from the residents' perspective, the review and the recruitment
of a new Commission is being viewed as a negative sign of political
interference with a body which had asserted a degree of independence.
3. CURRENT ORANGE
Broadly speaking, there are currently two schools
of thought within the Orange Order. The first is one of confidence
and is favoured by the leaders of Portadown District and their
team of legal and political representatives. In this view, the
conditions for a parade are improving. The Government recognise
how the Parades Commission have mishandled the problem. The review
of the Commission will yield important structural reform and the
composition of the new Commission will be such that the importance
of the right to parade will be given greater credence.
At the same time, it is accepted that the Orange
Order should take greater cognizance of the decisions of the current
Parades Commission and demonstrate efforts to positively respond
to issues which the Commission has signaled as being pre-requisites
for a parade.
Therefore, this approach pragmatically accepts
the value of addressing the Parades Commission's checklist regarding
efforts to engage the residents and address their genuine concerns.
Portadown District state that their intentions have always been
to parade back into town in the traditional manner.
They reason that if the Garvaghy Road people
cannot tolerate this tradition, the town will become irrevocably
segregated and the alienation of Protestants from Catholics will,
in all likelihood, take on a more permanent nature. The people
of the Garvaghy Road will be isolating themselves. Community relations
will descend to greater depths.
As things stand, the town is more bitterly divided
than ever and intimidation happens on all sides. Protestants have
been intimidated out of their homes as well.
The second school of thought within Orangeism
is "non-confident". Those who hold this view, note the
previous inability of Downing Street to steer a path round the
current Commission and wonder whether the Government will actually
manage to reform the Commission. They also wonder whether another
forced parade down the Garvaghy Road would really be countenanced
in the face of the likely reaction within Nationalism. This school
of thought worries about the ongoing effect of Drumcree on the
wider Orange Order: the danger of a haemorrhage of the traditional
mainstream and the influx of newer blood with an appetite for
4. CURRENT RESIDENTS'
Nationalists in Portadown and further afield
now view the Drumcree dispute as a struggle by the Orange Order,
on behalf of Unionism, to maintain an unequal status quo
which is historic and persistent in Northern Ireland. The concept
of an "accommodation" with a parade taking place on
the basis of mutual respect is viewed as a falsehood. Those who
have promoted accommodations have always adhered to the Orange
Order's bottom line of a parade, as if it were an immovable fact
of life. In the residents' view, a parade on the Garvaghy Road
is incompatible with the principle of mutual respect; rather,
it is a sign of the absence of respect.
The Garvaghy Road Residents' Coalition view
the Catholic community of Portadown as long term victims of inequality
who have been further violated and traumatised by the Drumcree
conflict. In this view, it was no accident that the majority of
local Nationalists were housed (and sometimes rehoused there following
intimidation elsewhere) in one part of Portadown. They were a
corralled minority in a town designed to remain an Orange citadel.
Since 1995, the Residents' Coalition believe they have been successfully
challenging this state of affairs. They acknowledge that this
has been at a huge cost. Six people have been murdered since 1996.
Many have sustained injuries, either through sectarian attack
or on the receiving end of over enthusiastic policing. Many have
been intimidated from their homes.
The RUC are viewed as fellow travellers of the
Orange Order. Local Nationalists have countless stories of police
inaction in the face of Loyalist assault, particularly at the
Craigwell Avenue interface and, most notoriously, at the scene
of the fatal attack on Robert Hamill. Furthermore, there is a
widely held conviction that police colluded in the assassination
of Rosemary Nelson, which robbed the local Nationalist community
of a friend and champion.
From their perspective, the residents' leaders
contrast the apparent readiness of police to prosecute Nationalists
with their inability to prosecute Orangemen and Loyalists for
a litany of misdemeanours.
According to the Garvaghy Road Residents' Coalition,
over the various "Drumcrees", "third party"
intervenors have invariably accepted the assumption that the search
for an accommodation includes the search for a parade. In this
view, such efforts have blurred the real issues. Residents point
out that mediation requires the commitment of two parties, yet,
Portadown District have never responded positively to requests
for mediation, nor indeed, any contact with them.
Therefore, the emergent residents' view identifies
three issues in the Portadown situation.
Firstly, the issue of ethnic equality, which
is inherent in the Good Friday Agreement and various pieces of
UK legislation which address the subject of race. In this respect,
Catholics can be viewed in racial terms because respective legislation
identifies religion as a determinant of race. The residents ask
rhetorically: "Where in Great Britain, in this day and age,
would the Government force a parade of a white organisation through
a black or Muslim area of a city, by the use of thousands of police
The residents' coalition now see the State as
the primary party with whom they are in conflict. They believe
that it is up to the State to prove whether the Good Friday Agreement's
promise of a new kind of society means what it says.
They say that for this reason, Drumcree remains
a matter of concern for the Nationalist community across Northern
The second issue for the Residents' Coalition
is about parades in Portadown. The residents point out that there
are over 30 scheduled "unionist" parades in Portadown
each year. They view their acceptance of this as a sign of respect
on the part of Nationalists. However, they argue that this should
not mean that parades should be allowed to pass through areas
wherein they are not welcome. The residents' group points out
that Nationalists have not sought to parade in areas where they
would not be welcome. In this regard, they say that the outward
route of the Drumcree church parade is emerging as a matter of
contention. Urban re-zoning will create the likelihood of Catholic
expansion around Drumcree. The outward route has the possibility
of becoming an issue similar to the Garvaghy Road leg
an unwelcome parade through a predominantly nationalist area.
The residents' group would be willing to discuss this matter with
the Portadown District. They believe that there is now an urgent
need to reach agreement on this matter.
However, they no longer view parading on the
Garvaghy Road as a live issue for discussion. They state that
they have made clear to various authorities that they wish to
see the same approach taken to parades on Garvaghy Road as was
taken to Obins Street in the 1980s, where parades were discontinued.
The Residents' Coalition's third issue is about
relationships with Protestants in Portadown. They say that local
Nationalists make a distinction between the local Protestant community
and the Orange Order. They recall Portadown District parading
in 1972, accompanied by columns of paramilitaries. They add that
again in the 1990s, loyalist paramilitaries were actively supportive
of Portadown District. They view Portadown District as part of
an institution which is anti-Catholic and which by its creed and
nature could not be respectful of Catholics. The idea of Catholics
seeking a respectful relationship with the Orange Order is viewed
as being as ridiculous as expecting black Americans to seek a
respectful relationship with the Ku Klux Klan.
The Residents' Coalition have noted that in
their various determinations regarding Drumcree, the Parades Commission
have concluded that no parade on the Garvaghy Road is feasible
without an agreed accommodation. The Residents' Coalition view
is that given the current social, political and economic situation
that prevails in Portadown, it is highly unlikely that an Orange
march could take place on the Garvaghy Road.
The residents' group believe that a survey,
like that which was undertaken in 1997 for the North Report, would
confirm that there is almost universal opposition among local
Catholics to the resumption of Orange parades on the Garvaghy
But, aside from parades, they affirm the desire
of Catholic residents for better relationships with the Protestant
community in Portadown. To that end, they are promoting a "Community
Development" strategy to address a social and economic agenda
within the Catholic community and with the Protestant community.
They anticipate that building better community relations will
take years. However, in their view, a reality with which Unionist
citizens will have to come to terms is the refusal of their Nationalist
fellow citizens to return to a life of second class citizenship.
5. ANALYSIS OF
The Drumcree dispute is an "identity-based"
conflict, rather than one which is based on conflicting interests.
If Drumcree was merely a matter of balancing interests then both
sides would have found a way to avail of social and economic aid
which has reportedly been on offer. If either side cared only
for their interests, they would have priorities other than trying
to parade on a particular stretch of road or opposing unwelcome
parading in their locality.
On the contrary, both sides view the problem
as of fundamental importance to their (heightened) sense of ethnicity.
For Portadown District, maintaining this age-old parade marks
the survival of a tradition. It is a sign of cultural health and
For the Residents' Coalition, ending the parade
is a sign of equality and freedom from domination by another,
From both of these perspectives, the suffering
involved in this conflict is a price which has to be paid for
a greater prize. For the Orange Order the prize is survival of
a noble way of life. For the Residents' Coalition the prize is
equality for an oppressed people. As one resident has said, "Drumcree
is Northern Ireland writ small". On this point both sides
agree. So, Portadown Orangemen are as important to their brethren
elsewhere as Jewish citizens in Jerusalem are to Jewish people
everywhere. The fate of the Garvaghy Road residents is as important
to the wider Catholic community as was that of black civil rights
protestors in Montgomery, Alabama to black America.
The Drumcree dispute is a multi-party conflict.
It involves more than the Orange Order and the Garvaghy Road Residents'
Coalition. Both groups would now view the RUC as another party
to the conflict. Each party, understandably, sets greater priority
by its own agenda. For instance, police concern for public order
inclines them to be more pragmatic. Many Orangemen now see the
RUC as traitorous, at least amongst its commanders. They view
the police definition of "public order" to mean "political
order", the new political order. Residents tend to view the
RUC as partisan, with public order meaning "Orange order",
the old order.
In addition to the above, the police, at the
very least, have relationship problems with both sides. They have
a lack of relationship with the overall Catholic community. At
the same time, their historic, organic relationships with the
Protestant community create expectations all round and, when police
officers do not conform to those expectations, the changing nature
of the relationship creates a sense of betrayal among many Orangemen.
This is an example of the growing complexity
of the Drumcree dispute and the overall parades conflict. Like
any other conflict, the longer it lasts, the more the issues multiply.
The apparent clarity of 1995 is in contrast with the complexity
In terms of years, the parades conflict is cross-generational.
A number of generations are involved. The integrity of the quarrel
has been handed down and is being handed down from one generation
to the next.
The conflict is systemic: it is not an inter-personal
conflict (though personality issues are significant).
Within each side there are different constituencies.
This is particularly true of the Orangemen, for, within the Orange
Order there are members of the Church of Ireland alongside Free
Presbyterians; anti-Agreement Unionists along with pro-Agreement
brethren. There are different tiers within the Orange Order: private
lodge; District; County; Grand Lodge. Orangemen may have common
cause but relate to different constituencies or may have different
priorities: one may think macro while another's concern is purely
Third parties might think they have engaged
"the Orange Order" when in reality they have formed
a tentative relationship with a few individuals. They may relate
well at County level but not register at all within the District.
One might seek progress with a group of residents'
leaders but find that matters need to be reported to community
meetings attended by hundreds of people.
Therefore, the principal protagonists represent
different sub-cultures with different traditions of leadership,
and decision making.
The Drumcree conflict is evolving. Like all
conflict, it cannot remain static, inert or impervious to changing
circumstances. It has an emotional life and is affected by personalities
6. THE DIRECTION
The Orange Order views itself as being driven
by two causes:
the protection of a civil and religious
the survival of a cultural tradition.
As in previous years, it will press its claim
to parade and, failing that, will likely engage in protest. If
the traditional church parade is granted in 2000, the Order would
feel that important principles have been upheld once again; ground
that was lost would have been recovered and the brethren would
wish to keep going for as many years as it takes to win the argument
once and for all. However there would be a price for success.
The negative reaction across the Nationalist community could further
endanger the parading tradition in a number of places. Great damage
would be done to community relations. Increasing unease within
the Unionist tradition would lead to a loss of support.
If a parade is once again denied, there would
be a view among Portadown Orangemen that further light is being
shed on that which they fear is a grim reality: that the State
and Nationalism are insincere regarding the commitment to a diverse
society and, in reality, are quite intent on destroying a Protestant
way of life. In this scenario, Orangemen would feel that "they
know where they stand".
The Garvaghy Road Residents' Coalition views
itself as being driven by two causes:
the achievement of equality among
the establishment of respect for
As in previous years they will press their case
for no parade and, failing that, will likely engage in protest.
If a parade is denied in 2000, the residents would feel that important
principles have been upheld again. In their view, the Garvaghy
Road would still be a bridgehead on the shore of equality.
Of course there would be a cost. Community relations
in Portadown would harden. The people of the Garvaghy Road area
would continue to feel they were living in a besieged ghetto and
they would have to live with the dangerous dynamic of Loyalist
If a parade is permitted this year, there would
be a view among Garvaghy Road residents that another moment of
truth has arrived: that the State and Unionism are insincere about
the Good Friday Agreement and the new equal society it promised.
In this scenario, the structural changes of new government would
appear superficial alongside the deeper reality of a system unchanged:
an unequal social order remaining the same. Their sense of alienation
would grow but they would intend to press on and insist on reform.
There are great difficulties stemming from the
perceived history of mediation in the Drumcree story. The parties'
experience of it has been, largely, negative. However, while a
succession of people (including myself) have done their best,
in difficult circumstances, with hindsight it is easier to observe
some common shortcomings. Principal among these is a lack of design
to intervention initiatives. There has not yet been a properly
constructed mediation process with the parties being asked to
agree on an aim, objectives and comprehensive ground rules.
In what other dangerous situations would this
be permitted in our modern times? For example, how many people
would knowingly board a plane without confidence in the pilot?
Without knowing the plane would take them where they wanted to
go? Without confidence that the plane was designed to carry its
load and that there were safety procedures in the event of a fault?
Another difficulty is that some intervention
initiatives have been driven by a different agenda. This is especially
true of Government sponsored activity which, understandably but
inappropriately, is bound to serve political priorities rather
than the communal issues at the heart of the parades conflict.
The term "mediation" has been used
and abused in these last years to cover a range of activity from
negotiation to facilitation.
Mediation has also become linked with the notion
of an "accommodation". Yet, for both sides this remains
a dangerous concept. Residents resent the commonly held assumption
that the only accommodation possible is merely one with a parade
that is more sensitive to their feelings. Orangemen resent the
expectation that they should impart unwarranted respect to unworthy
opponents by entering dialogue aimed at compromising their fundamental
Many Orangemen view dialogue as an act of submission.
Many Nationalists view dialogue as a sign of
And as the conflict has advanced and become
more complex, the two sides have developed on different wave-lengths.
For Orangemen, the issues are technical. The
only relevant discussion is about the practical arrangements for
a parade. For residents, the issues are contextual. The only relevant
discussion is about the context of this society, with the parades
issue viewed as a symptom of deeper problems.
8. THE POTENTIAL
As stated in the introductory section of this
paper, mediation does not solve conflict; it makes a contribution
to the management or resolution of conflict. So, what contribution
can be made to the Drumcree situation?
Firstly, it may be helpful to suggest that there
is one Drumcree conflict with a number of Drumcree problems. The
problem which has been central to the Drumcree conflict to date
is how to reach agreement on whether an Orange parade should go
down the Garvaghy Road. In my opinion, mediation cannot help this
problem. Since it is an identity-based conflict rather than a
needs-based conflict, the question of a parade cannot be resolved
to the mutual satisfaction of both sides. Portadown District refuse
to engage with the Residents' Coalition about the Garvaghy Road
and the residents no longer see much point in engaging with the
District about it anyway.
On the other hand, there are other significant
problems within the Drumcree conflict. One of these concerns the
need to assist the two sides to address their troubled relationship
in order to manage their enmity. Of course there is an immediate
difficulty here because neither side places value on the relationship,
a relationship in which each side feels violated by the other.
However, this relationship is central to the Drumcree conflict.
In 1997, the North Report took the view that,
in addition to existing public order criteria which were already
applied by the police to parades conflicts, the effect of a parade
on community relations should become a central concern. The Parades
Commission's determinations on Drumcree have identified the issue
of community relationships as the decisive factor. There is widespread
agreement on all sides about the effect of the Drumcree conflict
on community relations in Portadown and in Northern Ireland.
Therefore a mediation process which is designed
to address relationship issues, rather than a parade, is more
feasible. Unfortunately, the indications are that neither side
would prioritise such an endeavour at this point in the conflict.
Another difficulty is that each side might fear
entrapment by mediation; that their participation in a process
of any kind might be used in evidence against them. This is especially
a problem with a new Commission about to be appointed and suspicions
all round about the integrity of the future Parades Commission.
Therefore, a pre-requisite for credible mediation
in the Drumcree initiative should be requested by one or other
of the parties themselves.