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BBC NI's Conor Bradford
speaks to the SDLP's Brid Rodgers
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BBC NI's Audrey Carville
speaks to Portadown Orangemen spokesman David Jones
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Tuesday, 3 July, 2001, 15:35 GMT 16:35 UK
March mediator's call to paramilitaries
Restrictions have been placed on Drumcree parade route
Restrictions have been placed on Drumcree parade route
The South African lawyer mediating in Northern Ireland's Drumcree dispute has called on loyalist paramilitaries to stay away from the area this year.

Brian Currin was speaking a day after the parade was barred from passing down the mainly nationalist Garvaghy Road near Portadown in County Armagh, for the fourth consecutive year.

The Protestant Order wants to use the route on its return journey from a service at Drumcree church.

In a statement on Tuesday, Mr Currin said he was "concerned at the likelihood that loyalist paramilitaries will once again come out in support" of the parade.

Nationalists as well as unionists in Portadown are sick to death of this yearly saga

Brid Rodgers

"If loyalist paramilitaries and activists want a resolution to Drumcree, they can best make a contribution by allowing the Orangemen to give expression to their culture and religion with dignity and in a peaceful manner," he said.

"In the interests of achieving a long-term solution, I therefore plead with the loyalist paramilitary leadership to instruct their members to stay away from Drumcree on 8 July."

Click here for parade route

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.

The trouble included a gun salute by members of the paramilitary Loyalist Volunteer Force in a loyalist estate in Portadown.

Brian Currin: March mediator
Brian Currin: March mediator

Mr Currin also said that a resolution to the ongoing dispute could be found, but only in the right situation.

Meanwhile, a leading Orangeman called on the Parades Commission to overturn the ban.

Spokesman for Portadown Orange Lodge David Jones met the commission on Tuesday, even though the Orange Order has a policy not to talk to the organisation.

Mr Jones, who was recently elected an independent councillor for the area, met the commission as part of a delegation from Craigavon Borough Council.

"The reason why we're going is that we're representing our community. We are elected representatives," he told BBC Radio Ulster on Tuesday.

"It is important for us not only to have the matter resolved at Drumcree, but the effect that has on the rest of our community both during and after Drumcree.

David Jones
David Jones: Meeting Parades Commission

"We're going to ensure that there's equal rights for Protestants."

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

Mr Jones says the Order will be doing what it can to stop trouble at Sunday's march.

Mr Jones and his fellow councillors described their meeting with the commission as constructive.

He said they had succeeded in getting a review of the commission's decision on Drumcree.

He said the councillors put no new ideas or route plan forward and insisted on the parade returning by its traditional route.

As they arrived, a group of SDLP councillors and party activists staged a silent protest outside Windsor House in Belfast.

Upper Bann Assembly Member Brid Rodgers said the SDLP delegation had presented its arguments to the commission forcefully and that she felt the parades body had listened carefully to them.

She said the Order must accept the decision to keep the march away from the Garvaghy Road.

"There is nothing stopping the Orange enjoying their cultural heritage," she told the same programme.

"They do it all over the north.

"But what is wrong is when they insist on deliberately marching through a nationalist area celebrating the victory of King William over King James or the victory of unionism over nationalism, if you like, in a provocative way."

She said the ruling was not a victory for nationalism.

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See also:

03 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Police injured during rioting
02 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
Ban on Drumcree parade route
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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