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Monday, July 13, 1998 Published at 15:37 GMT 16:37 UK


Portadown Orangemen march

More than 1,000 Orangemen marched from the church

Orangemen have marched in Portadown and pledged to stay until they are allowed to walk down the Garvaghy Road.


BBC Correspondent Mervyn Jess: Portadown Orangemen still adamant
More than 1,000 marchers walked from the church at Drumcree to mark the anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne.

However they were not allowed down their traditional route. Marching down the Garvaghy Road has been banned by the Parades Commission, a move that has sparked a wave of violent protest in Portadown and around the province.

It had been feared that thousands more would join those camped at army barricades but recent violence has dampened the protest.


[ image:  ]
Several Orange leaders had asked for the Order's protest at Drumcree to be called off following an arson attack that killed three young boys in Ballymoney, Co Antrim, on Sunday. Two men are being questioned in connection with the attack.

The RUC dismissed suggestions by Portadown Orangemen that the petrol bombing which killed the boys may not have had a sectarian motive and was unrelated to the loyalist violence surrounding the Drumcree protest.

Detectives maintained that the attack was sectarian, including the Ballymoney Chief Inspector Terry Shevlin who said the deaths were the "unbelievable result of sectarianism and naked hatred at its worst".

The Orange Order's chief steward at Drumcree, Gareth Watson, insisted that the protest would continue indefinitely.

He said: "We don't expect 1,400 men to stay here, but the protest will continue until we can walk our traditional route."

He denied that the violence seen at the site during the eight-day stand-off was bringing the Order into disrepute.

He said: "The people involved were not Orangemen, but there is always that element on both sides of the community. You get that element in England, that element goes to football matches."


[ image: An army soldier watches the parade]
An army soldier watches the parade
A spokesman for UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said that the peace process was intact despite the tension in the province.

He said: "What the last few days actually have shown is that the agreement and the peace process have survived and have emerged strengthened from this process."

Our correspondent says that the Orange Order at Drumcree have no intention of backing down although the large numbers of people expected on Monday night to try to change the government's position on the ban is unlikely to happen.

Hundreds have been arriving at the site throughout the day but early estimates of crowds 100,000 now look to be greatly exaggerated.

Other parts of Northern Ireland have also seen marches. All have passed peacefully, including the contentious march down the Lower Ormeau Road in Belfast which was delayed by bomb scares.





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