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Last Updated: Sunday, 10 July, 2005, 17:27 GMT 18:27 UK
Drumcree parade passes peacefully
Orangemen staged a verbal protest at the security barrier
Orangemen staged a verbal protest at the security barrier
The annual Orange Order parade at Drumcree, County Armagh, has passed off peacefully.

It followed a low key security operation to enforce a decision to bar Orangemen from passing down the mainly nationalist Garvaghy Road in Portadown.

In the last two years, the parade has passed off peacefully. But, in the past, there has been serious violence.

District Secretary David Jones said Portadown Orangemen felt "disgust and disappointment" at the ban.

He addressed the senior police officer on duty and said the resolve of Orangemen remained "as strong as ever".

Mr Jones made the comments after several hundred Orangemen and women walked the short distance from Drumcree church to the security barrier.

After a brief religious service, the Orange lodges were addressed by the District Master, David Burrows, who criticised the Parades Commission ruling.

Mr Burrows said the protest would continue until Orangemen were once again allowed to follow their route.

"We are not going to walk away, we will continue to protest every Sunday until our rights are restored," he said.

Orangemen and women walked to police lines at Drumcree
Orangemen and women walked to police lines at Drumcree

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

This year, a gate and several crush barriers blocked the road below the church and a light-weight barbed wire fence was strung across a nearby field.

Soldiers and police officers, who were not in riot gear, were at the barrier. However, there were fewer than in previous years.

The main part of the barrier remained opened throughout the Orange Order protest on Sunday, with only crush barriers preventing the marchers from moving forwards.

Police Land Rovers were parked at potential flashpoints, such as the top of the Garvaghy Road, and water cannon were on standby.

Normal life in the whole of Portadown has been allowed to continue pretty much uninterrupted
Drew Harris

Chief Superintendent Drew Harris said he was satisfied with the way things had gone.

"This is the third year in which we have had little or no disorder," he said.

He said the greatly reduced security operation was commensurate with how police had measured any threat of violence.

Mr Harris added: "It has been significantly scaled down and normal life in the whole of Portadown has been allowed to continue pretty much uninterrupted."

The route along the Garvaghy Road was last used by the Orangemen in 1997.

Each July, the Portadown Orange Lodge attends a service at Drumcree church to commemorate the anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.

Since 1998, their homeward route has been blocked by the security forces, following a ruling by the Parades Commission.

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

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has said he hopes the main marches on 12 July will pass off peacefully.

"I really appeal to people to do all they can to avoid conflict, we know how easy it is to have conflict but we really, really ask people to do their utmost and I know political leaders will be doing that," Mr Ahern said.

"We have a lot of people on the ground in Northern Ireland this week, a lot of our officials are working. We will do everything we can, but at the end of the day it will come down to the good sense of decent and ordinary people."

Drumcree security 'scaled down'
08 Jul 05 |  Northern Ireland
Relaxed mood during Orange parade
09 Jul 05 |  Northern Ireland
Security dismantled at Drumcree
05 Jul 04 |  Northern Ireland
Drumcree march passes peacefully
04 Jul 04 |  Northern Ireland
Guide to Drumcree parade route
04 Jul 04 |  Northern Ireland

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