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Sunday, June 13, 1999 Published at 13:19 GMT 14:19 UK


11 hurt at Orange Order clash

The Orange Order march at Drumcree remains deeply contentious

The RUC has said 11 officers were injured and four people arrested at Saturday evening's Orange Order parades in Portadown, County Armagh.

The Search for Peace
One officer is still in hospital following serious rioting in the nationalist Garvaghy Road area and on Drumcree Hill.

Petrol bombs, fireworks and stones were hurled at police, who had a number of vehicles damaged. Several army vehicles were also hit by the missiles.

A policeman was hurt at the bottom of Garvaghy Road as Orangemen assembled on Park Road.

Portadown Orange spokesman David Jones said a number of people were hurt when police baton-charged the crowd and he condemned the security forces for their "heavy handedness".

Appeal for calm

Tight security had been in place for the estimated 8,000 loyalist Orangemen who gathered for the parades.

The Independent Parades Commission had approved the four "mini-12th marches". They included one near the Garvaghy Road, and another at Drumcree church on the outskirts of the town.

They have been the scene of loyalist demonstrations since the Parades Commission banned a march there last summer.

Nationalist community leaders had appealed for calm. Breandan MacCionnaith, the spokesman for residents of Garvaghy Road said: "This is not doing anything to help community relations."

[ image: The RUC mounts a massive security operation during the marching season]
The RUC mounts a massive security operation during the marching season
But David Jones, the Portadown Orange Order spokesman, earlier defended the plan to march in the traditional run-up to 12 July that celebrates the victory of the Battle of the Boyne.

"This is an annual demonstration, with particular significance this year, because Orangemen will be showing solidarity with the ongoing protest at Drumcree," he said.

"We have every right to walk the Queen's highway and to legitimate protest. I would ask people: who started the problems over parades and who is continuing to cause those problems?"

[ image: Orangemen on a previous march look over to the Garvaghy Road on their way to Drumcree]
Orangemen on a previous march look over to the Garvaghy Road on their way to Drumcree
Talks to resolve the stand-off between the two communities have so far failed to resume after the Orange Order criticised the talks chairman, ACAS official, Frank Blair.

Orangemen are planning a "Long March" from Londonderry to Portadown, starting on 24 June, and taking in various towns across the province.

Earlier this month, a 59-year-old grandmother was killed in her Portadown home by a pipe bomb believed to have been thrown by loyalists.

Elizabeth O'Neill may have been targeted because her marriage crossed the sectarian divide.

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Northern Ireland

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