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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 September 2006, 06:48 GMT 07:48 UK
Nationalists urge Drumcree review
Since 1998, their homeward route has been blocked by the security forces
Their homeward route has been blocked by the security forces
Nationalists in Portadown have asked the Parades Commission to place restrictions on an Orange Order Drumcree parade planned for Saturday.

Orangemen said it was to mark 3,000 days since they were first banned from walking down the Garvaghy Road.

Orange Order spokesman David Jones said the Drumcree protest in the County Armagh town was still very much alive.

"It has become a protest now that is still ongoing - very much a protest by Portadown LOL Number 1," he said.

"It does have the backing of all Orange brethren throughout the country itself.

"It is more than just a parade along Garvaghy Road, it actually is a stand for the civil and religious liberties of which the Orange Order gives particular importance to."

However, the Garvaghy Road Residents' Coalition has requested the Parades Commission to review its decision not to impose any any restrictions on the march.

"In the absence of any stoppage point being imposed, this in effect means that participants in the parade can make their way along that part of the notified route to the junction of the Drumcree Road and Garvaghy Road," said spokesman Breandán Mac Cionnaith.

"The extremely volatile situation which such a scenario could create is simply beyond the comprehension of many people."

'Rightly concerned'

Sinn Fein said it had also requested a review of the Parades Commission decision.

Assembly member John O'Dowd said: "The commission was aware of the controversy over this march and had received representations in relation to it."

SDLP assembly member Dolores Kelly said the parade was "in no way a 'traditional' march".

The DUP MP for the area, David Simpson, said he had agreed to speak at the rally.

"The 3,000 days... in realistic terms, Portadown district should not have been there for a day," he said.

"This is not about celebration - in talking to the district - this is about commemoration."

The commission was aware of the controversy over this march and had received representations in relation to it
John O'Dowd
Sinn Fein

"The people of the Garvaghy Road are rightly concerned by this parade. It is certainly not the best way to improve relations in the area," she said.

The parade has been marked by serious violence in the past, but it has passed off peacefully in the last three years.

The march has been one of Northern Ireland's most contentious. The route was last used by 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 determination by the Parades Commission.

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

The Orange Institution is the largest loyal order in Northern Ireland.

Its origins date from the 17th century battle for supremacy between Protestantism and Catholicism. Prince William of Orange, originally of the Netherlands, led the fight against Catholic King James.

Commission rules out Orange march
30 Jun 06 |  Northern Ireland
Drumcree parade passes peacefully
10 Jul 05 |  Northern Ireland
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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