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The BBC's Mark Devenport
reports from Drumcree
 real 56k

Former Ulster Unionist leader, David Trimble
"If there is a protest keep it peaceful"
 real 28k

The BBC's Elaine Lester
reports on why Drumcree is so important to the Orange Order
 real 28k

The BBC's Hugh Sykes
"To get into the predominately Catholic area you have to go through Army checkpoints"
 real 28k

Saturday, 7 July, 2001, 17:17 GMT 18:17 UK
Barriers go up around Drumcree
Barbed wire in the field around Drumcree
Barbed wire in the fields around Drumcree
A massive security operation has been put in place near Drumcree in County Armagh on the eve of the Orange Order's controversial parade.

The fortifications were erected as the head of the RUC appealed for good sense to prevail at Sunday's march.

The Protestant parade has been barred from marching down the mainly nationalist Garvaghy Road near Portadown, for the fourth consecutive year.

About 600 soldiers have been involved in the security operation which began at about 0200 BST on Saturday and involved members of the Parachute Regiment.

Soldiers have erected a huge steel and concrete barrier across the road at the bridge, at the bottom of Drumcree Hill, to stop the parade going towards the Garvaghy Road.

Attacked

Soldiers also put barbed wire and razor wire in place, dug up fields adjacent to the barrier, and widened a water-filled ditch.

A convoy of more than 20 trucks was attacked by nationalist stone-throwers. However, no-one was injured.

Sir Ronnie Flanagan:
Sir Ronnie Flanagan: Hopeful serious trouble will be averted

The RUC Chief Constable, Sir Ronnie Flanagan, has said he is hopeful that there will not be serious trouble.

Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster on Saturday, he said: "The intelligence at our disposal indicates that the mainstream loyalist organisations do not intend to get involved in this thing organisationally and that's to be welcomed.

"Certainly, on the eve of Drumcree we're in a better position this year than we have in many years in the past but that's not to say we should be complacent.

"We've made all our preparations. But with good sense prevailing in the way that it has thankfully over recent days, we can get through this situation without major difficulty."

Breandan MacCionnaith of the nationalist Garvaghy Road Residents' Coalition has appealed for calm.

"We have made an appeal in the area from Thursday asking local people to exercise restraint and I would hope that last night was just a one off incident and it'll not be repeated," he said.

Meanwhile, the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commissioner, Bryce Dickson, has been at Drumcree Church.

It is understood he went to the scene at the request of Orangemen who expressed concern about the safety of some of the fortifications.

David Burrowes criticised the security operation
David Burrowes criticised the security operation

The security operation has been criticised by the Portadown Orange Order's deputy district master David Burrowes.

"Once again we see how far the British Government will go to stop an Orange parade, an outward sign of their culture," he said.

"If they were to put as much money and effort to seeing a resolve to this situation, maybe we wouldn't have to have this, so many years down the road."

Call for agreement

Orangemen insist they should be allowed to march along the Garvaghy Road to return to their hall in Portadown after their annual Battle of the Somme commemoration service at Drumcree Parish Church.

But nationalist residents oppose the marches and they have been barred from the road since 1998.

The rector of Drumcree Church, Reverend John Pickering, has said he thought proposals put before the Parades Commission on Thursday could have led to an agreement.

The Church of Ireland minister said the agreement could have been acceptable to both nationalist residents and Orangemen.

"Unfortunately the Parades Commission was not realistic about it," he said.

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 march has been accompanied by disturbances every year since 1995, and has often led to violence in the rest of Northern Ireland.

Meanwhile, Orangemen from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland have been in Donegal for their annual parade in Rossnowlagh.

However, the numbers attending have been affected by the foot-and-mouth outbreak in the republic.


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See also:

06 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
Appeal for calm over Drumcree
07 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
Reid plays down NI talks hopes
03 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
UDA 'won't start Drumcree violence'
03 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
March mediator's call to paramilitaries
03 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Police injured during rioting
01 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
Minor clashes over Orange parade
07 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland's marching season
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