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BBC NI's Yvette Shapiro reports
"As darkness fell an armoured vehicle was set alight"
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Monday, 3 July, 2000, 09:15 GMT 10:15 UK
Police injured during rioting
Rioting lasted for several hours
Rioting lasted for several hours
Seven police officers have been injured during overnight loyalist rioting which lasted for several hours at Drumcree in Portadown.

The trouble came after a march by more than 1,000 members of the Orange Order near the mainly nationalist Garvaghy Road area of the town in County Armagh passed off peacefully with only minor scuffles on Sunday.

Many Garvaghy Road residents oppose Orange parades through the area.

Thousands marched through Portadown
Thousands marched through Portadown
But Orangemen say marching down the Garvaghy Road is a long tradition.

The Portadown lodge has been banned since 1998 from returning to their hall via the Garvaghy Road and is awaiting a verdict from the Northern Ireland Parades Commission on Monday on their traditional parade next Sunday.

About 300 loyalists gathered at Drumcree church on Sunday night.

As darkness fell, an armoured vehicle was set alight and bottles and stones were thrown at the security forces.

Ball bearings were also fired from a catapult.

Several police officers sustained minor injuries.

However, the general secretary of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Denis Watson, said all protests should be non violent.

Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster, the Upper Bann assemblyman said: "As far as we're concerned there's no problem with a peaceful, dignified protest.

"Where the problems do arise is where violence occurs and the institution will not have truck with any part of violence."

Call to step up security

Earlier, the deputy mayor of Craigavon invited the South African lawyer Brian Currin to take charge of an initiative aimed at breaking the deadlock over Drumcree.

Ulster Unionist Mark Neale wants Mr Currin to chair a Civic Forum in Portadown on 10 July.

The proposal includes an Orange march along the Garvaghy Road next Sunday.

The Orange Order's spokesman in Portadown, David Jones, was sceptical about the proposal.

Mr Jones said: "Quite simply, Breandan Mac Cionnaith and his group have got what they have wanted.

"For two years there has been no parade along the Garvaghy Road.

"They are not going to move from that as far as I can see.

"I think that this is where this particular initiative will immediately flounder."

Meanwhile, nationalists have urged the Irish Government to put pressure on Britain to step up security after Orange Order leaders call for hundreds of thousands to support the Drumcree protest.

Orangemen hand a letter of protest to police
Orangemen hand a letter of protest to police
After Sunday's march at Drumcree, Portadown District Master Harold Gracey called on the people of Northern Ireland to "get off their bellies" and protest against the Parades Commission decision to bar marchers from the Garvaghy Road.

The Garvaghy Road residents' group appealed to the Irish Government following Mr Gracey's speech.

Mr Gracey said: "This battle is not just about Drumcree. This is about the Orange Order. It is about the Protestant people. They used to be on their knees, now they are on their bellies.

"If they don't get up off their bellies before it is too late this country will be gone."


Earlier, the Orange Order handed in three letters of protest at the Garvaghy Road ban.

One of the letters said Orangemen would continue their protest at Drumcree until they were allowed to march the road.

On Sunday, a huge security operation greeted Orangemen as they made their way from Portadown for a service at Drumcree Church.

Hundreds of supporters who could not fit inside the church staged an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation with police officers who had blocked off access to the Garvaghy Road.

Sunday's march is seen as a prelude to next week's main march to Drumcree by Orangemen for a church service commemorating those killed in the Battle of the Somme during World War One.

Tensions in Northern Ireland intensify each year in the run-up to 12 July after three months of province-wide marches.

The date marks the victory of William of Orange, leader of the Protestants, over the Catholic forces of King James II at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.

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See also:

02 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Security fears at Drumcree
02 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Appeal for Drumcree calm
01 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Garvaghy parades spokesman arrested
01 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Protestants prepare to march
30 Jun 00 | Northern Ireland
'Nothing new' in parade proposals
20 Jun 00 | Northern Ireland
Early Drumcree solution 'unlikely'
23 Jun 00 | Northern Ireland
Drumcree marching dispute appeal
27 Jun 00 | Northern Ireland
Drumcree parade is re-routed
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