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Last Updated: Friday, 29 February 2008, 21:11 GMT
Cardinal Brady meets Orangemen
Cardinal Sean Brady
Cardinal Sean Brady met with Portadown Orangemen
The head of the Catholic Church in Ireland has met Protestant Orange Order leaders involved in the long-running Drumcree marching dispute.

Cardinal Sean Brady discussed the parades with senior Orangemen at a meeting in Armagh on Thursday night.

The meeting was part of a series of engagements between Portadown's Orangemen and other religious leaders.

District Master, Darryl Hewitt, said: "The meeting with Cardinal Brady was worthwhile and very constructive.

"We wanted to meet the Cardinal and thank him for his words, particularly his condemnation of the evil and orchestrated attacks on our property.

"The Orange Order in Portadown is willing to enter face-to-face talks with the Garvaghy Road residents in an attempt to sort out the problem," he said.

Orangemen have been locked in a long-running dispute with nationalist residents from Portadown's Garvaghy Road over the annual Battle of the Somme parade from Drumcree church.

They have been banned since 1998 from parading down the Garvaghy Road, with residents insisting they must engage them in genuine dialogue.

Before 1998 attempts to ban the parade from going down the road resulted in loyalist rioting both in Portadown and across Northern Ireland.

However when the 1998 march was forced through the Garvaghy Road it sparked nationalist rioting.

In their latest effort to explain their position, Orangemen have met security minister Paul Goggins, a committee on parading chaired by Lord Ashdown and Church of Ireland Primate Archbishop Alan Harper.

Mr Hewitt said: "A solution for the Garvaghy Road issue will remove one of Northern Ireland's long-running problems and we are certainly prepared to play our part".

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