DROMORE - A TOWN TO BE PROUD OF?

IS Dromore a town to be proud of? Not quite yet.” That’s according to one local man who claims band parades, such as that staged recently in town by Kinallen Flute Band, are unwelcome among the majority of local residents, serving only to reinforce what he claims to be existing division, bringing little or no benefit to town, causing serious disruption, besieging residents in their homes and burdening the public with additional costs.

This he compares to Dromore’s Community Festival week, which he first hails as “a fully encompassing community event run by local group ‘Dromore In Action”.

He continues: -

“This fantastic event, aimed at drawing members of the whole community into the town centre and beyond, provided us with a wide range of events for all to enjoy – vintage car rally, soap box derby, service of praise, to name but a few.

“The crowds in attendance at the events were evidence in themselves that these events are welcome, nay needed, in a town with a divided community.

“On the flip-side, and somewhat overshadowing the community festival, Friday 25 May 2012 saw the return of the annual Kinallen Flute Band to the quiet streets of Dromore - an event, which is clearly accepted as being unwelcome by the majority of the townsfolk, a wholly sectarian event which only serves to once again segregate and divide communities and instil fear.

“The influx of approximately 1,500 additional people to the town on Friday night (Parade Commission estimates) puts huge strain on the local public services.

“The whispers on the streets of Dromore in the weeks running up to the parade are that parades of this type are an unwelcome nuisance in the town. They are not welcome by the majority of the public traders; they are most certainly not welcome by the homes held under siege during these events.

“These parades beg the questions - How does a young family cope when they are unable to enter or leave their property due to the passing of the parades?. How do members of the community feel when the very foundations of their house are shaken by the drums of a parade 20 feet from their front door? How do the elderly and less physically capable cope when their bus cannot leave them in Dromore Square due to the parade, but instead over 0.5 miles away?

“So what are the benefits that the parades bring to the town? Some additional trade? Does this counter-balance the additional cost borne by the ratepayers in cleaning up the mess that ensues, the broken bottles, the urine on the streets, the empty chip wrappers? This of course does not even begin to factor in the cost of additional policing, something again which is borne by the ratepayer and not the parades themselves.

“As a member of the Protestant/Unionist community, I do not see how these parades assist in showing Dromore in a good light. I shall not even begin to describe how Catholic fellow work colleagues perceive our wee town.”

The local man said that to talk publicly about such issues was not possible “without fear of backlash and reprisal”, but insisted the feelings of the residents must be brought to the fore and given consideration by parade organisers.

He later added:-

“I feel very disheartened at the parades I am witnessing in Dromore. I feel very strongly that these types of parades are portraying our town in a very bad light and only serve to cause nuisance and annoyance to all those who live locally and are affected directly or indirectly.

“I know a large amount of people share my views but are too afraid to speak their minds against the organisers of these events. If the parades were organised to be held in an area (within park/leisure centre/other open area) it would allow more effective policing and less resultant anti-social behaviour thus more public acceptance.

“Most of the issues do not stem from the actual bands/parades themselves but rather the element who follow them.

“I don’t see why the parades should be allowed to effectively ‘sterilise’ areas in terms of access ie people physically unable to enter or leave their property or simply too afraid to do so.

“They do not have to pay for the policing or the resultant clean-up. Perhaps they could be encouraged to do something for the benefit of the community in lieu of these events.

“I am all in favour of retaining cultural events for both sides of the community, but only when they are enjoyable for everyone affected and bring a benefit to the town.”