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Monday, July 6, 1998 Published at 14:09 GMT 15:09 UK

Trimble warns of threat to peace

Here we stand and will do no other: Orangemen begin their protest

BBC Ireland Correspondent Denis Murray: 'Some vehicles were hijacked and burned'
The Northern Ireland peace process is being jeopardised by the stand-off in Drumcree, First Minister David Trimble has warned.

But Northern Ireland Secretary Mo Mowlam has made it clear that the government will not give in to loyalist violence and reverse the ban as the Drumcree march stalemate entered its second day.

Up to 1,000 Protestant Orangemen and their families spent the night sleeping out next to the barricades erected by the army to prevent them marching down the Garvaghy Road in Portadown.

[ image: Tents have been put up in Portadown]
Tents have been put up in Portadown
Only days after Northern Ireland glimpsed a fresh political future with the start of work at the power-sharing assembly, the Orange Order carried out its threat to defy a ruling banning the annual Drumcree march from entering a nationalist housing estate.

The BBC's Mark Devenport: 'David Trimble denied reports that he'd threatened to resign as Northern Ireland's first minister'
Mr Trimble's comments followed newspaper reports he would quit as First Minister unless the Portadown Orangemen were allowed to march down the Garvaghy Road.

Mr Trimble dismissed the claims saying he had never made such a demand.

The First Minister said: "This situation has the capacity to de-stabilise, and if the situation is not resolved satisfactorily, it could put at risk all the political progress we have achieved."

He pleaded with loyalists to "keep calm" but said the Parades Commission had made a mistake.

Mr Trimble said the scenes of violence were "very regrettable" and confirmed he had spoken with Ms Mowlam and Downing Street about the stand-off.

Northern Ireland Secretary Mo Mowlam: 'If people want a better future we must abide by the law of the land'
After a night which witnessed sporadic violence in other areas of Northern Ireland but a peaceful stand-off in Portadown, Mo Mowlam reinforced the government's message that it will not overturn the ban.

She said: "I appeal to people to look to the future. We have options in the future for better peace in Northern Ireland, and to not participate where there is a potential for violence to result."

Tents were erected and pipers played traditional music to the orange-sashed protesters in Portadown.

[ image: The parade route]
The parade route
Rev Ian Paisley, who visited the scene during the night, said: "This stand-off will last until the men walk down the road, make no mistake about it, these people are determined."

Mr Paisley, the leader of the Democratic Unionists, blamed the Parades Commission's "folly" for the Drumcree stand-off and accused its chairman Alastair Graham of trying to play one community off against the other.

It is believed that the Portadown Orange Lodge could introduce a rota to maintain a presence at the frontline as members return to work during the week.

Speaking shortly after the protest began, Robert Saulters, Grand Master of the Orange Order, predicted his members would remain resolute.

He said: "Last year we did it the quiet way and what thanks did we get for it?

"This is what we get - a kick in the teeth."

'Close the checkpoints'

While the Orange Order drew its line in the sand, a spokesman for the nationalist community behind the razor wire and ditches demanded further action from security forces.

[ image: Robert Saulters:
Robert Saulters: "A kick in the teeth"
Breandan MacCionnaith, the Garvaghy Road residents' spokesman branded a Sinn Fein mouthpiece by the Orangemen, said: "If you are going to have this decision implemented, then the British Government must now close the checkpoints to prevent further loyalists coming into Portadown."

He stressed community concerns that the RUC would eventually capitulate under the weight of province-wide protests and allow the march down the Garvaghy Road.

The BBC's Joe Paley: 'They say they intend to go one way only and that is down the lane'
But Adam Ingram, the Northern Ireland Security Minister, reiterated pledges to ensure the Parades Commission's ruling is adhered to.

He added: "The government and the Chief Constable of the RUC, with the support of the army, are determined that civil security prevails".

More rulings to come

[ image: Sitting and waiting: Long stand-off expected]
Sitting and waiting: Long stand-off expected
The political temperature could rise further when the Parades Commission decides on 28 more protestant parades due over the July 12 Battle of the Boyne marching season.

Joe Paley asks the Orangemen: "How long will you stay?"
Its chairman, Alastair Graham, stressed that both nationalists and loyalists had to accept compromise.

He said: "There will be decisions which will be just as unpalatable to the nationalist community.

"They will be as equally required to comply with the legal ruling of the Parades Commission, as are the Orange Order at Drumcree."

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