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BBC NI's Mark Carruthers
speaks to Garvaghy Residents' spokesman Breandan Mac Cionnaith
 real 28k

BBC NI's Mark Carruthers
speaks to Orange Order Grand Secretary Denis Watson
 real 28k

Parades Commission chairman Tony Holland:
"There has been some movement by both sides of the Drumcree issue"
 real 28k

Monday, 2 July, 2001, 18:24 GMT 19:24 UK
Ban on Drumcree parade route
Orangmen marching
Orange Order's route has again been banned
The Northern Ireland Parades Commission has barred a controversial Orange Order parade from entering a nationalist area in County Armagh.

The commission announced its decision on Monday to prevent Protestant Orangemen walking from Drumcree church in Portadown and passing through the Catholic Garvaghy Road.

The loyal order has been barred from entering the area since 1998, leading to violent clashes between police and loyalists.

The latest decision is expected to receive a furious reaction from the Orange Order's Portadown district lodge.

'Digest the decision'

Orange Order Grand Secretary Denis Watson said the order's rights had again been denied.

He said the order would take time to digest the decision.

"I think the Parades Commission is a group of people which should look at what they are trying to achieve," he said.

"This doesn't come as a surprise. We are fed up but not surprised - given the events over the past few years.

"It is a responsible way that we intend to behave in the current climate.

"We will be saying to our people, quite clearly, that if there are those people out in the community who are intent on going about it in a violent manner - that is not what we want.

"We certainly don't want violence," said Mr Watson.

Breandan Mac Cionnaith of the Garvaghy Road Residents' Coalition said he welcomed the decision and said he believed it was "the only possible outcome".

"The decision is based on the criteria laid down in the legislation," he said.

He said the residents had put a number of proposals to the Portadown Orangemen earlier this year, but these had been rejected.

Meanwhile, the Portadown district's press officer, David Jones, has been chosen by Craigavon borough council to be part of a delegation to meet the Parades Commission.

The delegation is seeking to get the Drumcree decision overturned.

Other members of the delegation are Ulster Unionist Arnold Hatch, David Simpson of the Democratic Unionist Party and deputy mayor Jonathan Bell of the DUP.

The Protestant Order says it should have the right to march down the Garvaghy Road, from a church service which commemorates soldiers at the 1916 battle of the Somme.

However, nationalist residents oppose the marches.

Last year, province-wide protests in support of the Orangemen led to widespread disruption as roads were blocked and loyalist rioting marked several nights of violence.

Leading Portadown Orangeman Harold Gracey refused to condemn the violence which included a gun salute by members of the loyalist paramilitary Ulster Freedom Fighters, close to Drumcree church.

'Significant moves'

Last year, the Parades Commission Chairman, Tony Holland, said that only agreement between the Orange Order and the residents could guarantee a parade taking place along the Garvaghy Road.

Tony Holland
Tony Holland: "There has been movement on both sides"

The Orange Order has said it is against their policy to speak to the commission or nationalist residents groups, and have insisted their cultural and religious rights are upheld.

However, speaking ahead of the commission's decision on Monday, Mr Holland said there had been significant moves forward on the Drumcree issue.

"I think there has been movement, all be it imperceptible movement, on the part of both sides," he said.

Meanwhile, a week of prayer for a peaceful summer began in Belfast on Monday.

Prayers will be held at the Cathedral Church of St Anne every day from 1000 BST to 1600 BST, and Church of Ireland Primate Dr Robin Eames is one of a group of religious and community leaders expected to speak at the sessions.

'Local agreement'

In 1998 a protest on Drumcree hill by thousands of Orangemen and their supporters erupted into serious violence and nightly battles with police.

A wave of violence also spread around Northern Ireland.

The Orange parade passed off peacefully in 1999 following the Northern Ireland Parades Commission's decision to restrict it.

The commission, which makes the decisions about whether restrictions are placed on contentious marches, places emphasis on attempts to gain local agreement.

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See also:

03 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Police injured during rioting
02 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Security fears at Drumcree
02 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Appeal for Drumcree calm
01 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Protestants prepare to march
30 Jun 00 | Northern Ireland
'Nothing new' in parade proposals
01 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
Minor clashes over Orange parade
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