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Last Updated: Monday, 5 July, 2004, 06:46 GMT 07:46 UK
Security dismantled at Drumcree
Orangemen at barrier
A protest was made to police at the barrier

The area surrounding the annual Orange Order parade at Drumcree in County Armagh has returned to normal after the march passed off peacefully.

Within an hour of the parade finishing on Sunday, the security forces began to dismantle the security operation and finished it later that night.

The police have praised the efforts made by members of both communities to reduce tension and maintain calm.

Hundreds of Orangemen took part in the march, which was again banned by the Northern Ireland Parades Commission from passing down the mainly nationalist Garvaghy Road in Portadown.

The dispute centres on the desire by Protestant Orangemen to march along Garvaghy Road on their way back from a church service, against residents' wishes.

Following the service, Orangemen walked to the police barrier which prevented them from progressing further down the road, and made a verbal protest at the ban.

They then turned back up the hill towards Drumcree Church before dispersing.

Tape barrier

A major security operation accompanied the march in recent years, but it was scaled down this year.

The barrier was smaller and there was significantly less barbed wire around the site of the parade than in previous years.

Officers of Portadown District strung their own tape barrier across the road at the foot of Drumcree Hill and into an adjoining field.

Ahead of police lines, their cordon carried a sign asking protesters not to cross.

Before the march, Portadown Orange Deputy District Master David Burrows told Orangemen: "No matter what people say, Portadown District is still on the road."

Representatives of County Lodge were conspicuous by their absence at the march.

Orangemen at Drumcree
Fewer Orangemen took part in this year's parade

This move may have been linked to recent tensions within the Orange Order over the Portadown District's contacts with the Parades Commission, in breach of Grand Lodge policy.

On Sunday, Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition spokesman Breandan MacCionnaith said something more needed to be done to resolve the Drumcree situation.

The Portadown Orange Lodge attends the service at Drumcree Church each July, which commemorates the anniversary of the battle of the Somme.

Last year's march passed off peacefully, but over the years, there has been serious violence directed against the police and Army at Drumcree.

Orangemen last walked down the Garvaghy Road in 1997.

In subsequent years, their homeward route has been blocked by the security forces.

The Parades Commission was set up in 1997 to make decisions on whether controversial parades should be restricted.




SEE ALSO:
Drumcree violence 'in the past'
02 Jul 04  |  Northern Ireland


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