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Tuesday, 9 July, 2002, 15:00 GMT 16:00 UK
Orangemen condemn Drumcree violence
Security forces struggled with protesters
Senior Orangemen in County Armagh have condemned "unreservedly" the violence following Sunday's Drumcree parade.

Twenty-four police officers were injured during the trouble which followed the controversial Orange Order parade being barred from a mainly nationalist Garvaghy Road area of Portadown.

During the trouble, which lasted less than an hour, police fired three plastic bullets and at least two civilians were injured.

David Burrows, Deputy Master of the Portadown District lodge, said Orangemen in the area were devastated by what happened.

David Burrows: Orangemen "devastated" by violence
He said: "The violence has completely undermined the efforts district officers have been making throughout the year to try and bring about a peaceful solution to the dispute and a full restoration of our civil liberties.

"The best way to ensure that this never happens again is for all parties to work to find a solution."

Six men were in court on Tuesday, charged in connection with the disturbances.

Four of them have been remanded in custody. The other two were released on bail.

Security operation

Following a service at Drumcree Church of Ireland, the Portadown district lodge made the short walk to the security barrier stopping them from entering the Garvaghy Road.

More than 2,000 police officers and soldiers were in place for the security operation on Sunday - the fifth successive year the parade was restricted.

A letter of protest was handed in to a senior police officer at the security barriers.

A short time later a small crowd of supporters and some men wearing Orange collarettes, forced open the gates which were in place to stop the march going down the road.

Policeman hurt in clashes
Violent clashes left dozens of officers injured
They began throwing stones at the police.

Police officers and soldiers in riot gear pushed the crowd back through the gates and the Army brought in a larger barrier to block the road.

Later police used water cannon in an attempt to disperse about 150 protesters trying to pull down barbed wire fencing at the barricade.

Meanwhile, a crowd of up to 300 people gathered on the hill at Drumcree on Monday night.

Fireworks were thrown over the security barrier. There were no injuries.

A large security presence remains in place.

The Orange Order argues that following the march route - from Portadown to Drumcree church and back - is a celebration of their heritage. But many Catholics regard it as provocative.

Fury at the block on Orangemen returning from their church service at Drumcree along that route has led to fierce clashes in the past.

The event is part of the Protestant marching season which commemorates William of Orange's 1690 Battle of the Boyne victory over Catholic King James II, and culminates in celebrations on 12 July.

Find out more about the Drumcree dispute in Northern Ireland

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See also:

07 Jul 02 | N Ireland
07 Jul 02 | N Ireland
06 Jul 02 | N Ireland
01 Jul 02 | N Ireland
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