Category: Archive

Gravaghy Road residents still struggling, MacCionnaith says

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Patrick Markey

Garvaghy Road residents representative Breandan MacCionnaith finished a brief tour of the United States last week after meeting with American activists and pointing to the ongoing conflict and discrimination against nationalist residents in the Portadown area.

Speaking on Thursday in New York’s Manhattan Club, MacCionnaith reminded his audience that despite the peace process brokered by the April 10 agreement, nationalist residents living on the Garvaghy Road are still facing economic and political hardship.

"We are told we have peace in Ireland, but what we have can only be described as low-intensity terrorism," he said.

"The sad reality is that we have not witnessed any change in the way we are treated. A lot of the people are questioning the whole purpose of the agreement."

MacCionnaith, who also visited Philadelphia, Boston and Newark, was speaking to representatives from the Irish Parades Emergency Committee, a loose network of Irish American and human rights activists who send observers to Portadown to monitor the marching season.

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After describing what he called the continuing conflict and siege state on the Garvaghy, MacCionnaith criticized attempts to portray the Portadown conflict as a clash of competing rights of two sides of equal blame.

"To portray what is happening in Portadown at the present time and what has been happening in Portadown for some time as a conflict of competing rights is doing a disservice to a community that is fighting the same battle and the same struggle that was initiated 30 years ago," he said in reference to the civil rights movement in Derry.

The nationalist community continues to face economic hardship because of "official discrimination." Although nationalists make up only a small percentage of the Portadown population, they made up 43 percent of the area’s unemployed.

Despite the Good Friday peace agreement, Garvaghy residents and their supporters have to ask why the British government continually denies to allocate funding and investment to the nationalist community, he said. It was, MacCionnaith said, political vetting and economic blackmail against groups within the nationalist community.

"The April 10 agreement was to deliver equality and opportunity to everyone in the North, and the British are certainly not delivering equality and opportunity to the unemployed, the old people and the young people in the community," he said.

Turning to this year’s Drumcree crisis, MacCionnaith said Catholic shoppers have been driven from the town center and Catholic businesses have been attacked. Although in recent weeks some elements of unionism have called for an end to the protests, the British had made it clear that there would be no aid to the nationalist community until Orange feet have marched on the Garvaghy Road," MacCionnaith said.

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