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Wednesday, 31 May, 2000, 11:46 GMT 12:46 UK
Cross-community concert in Portadown
St John the Baptist church
Event was held at St John the Baptist church
Northern Ireland First Minister David Trimble and the Secretary of State have attended a cross-community concert in Portadown, County Armagh.

The event was organised by People in Harmony, a Portadown-based cross-community youth choir.

According to the organisers, the aim of Tuesday evening's concert was to be "a voice of hope to the rest of the world".

Both unionists and nationalists attended the concert held at St John the Baptist Catholic Church on the Garvaghy Road.

James Galway
James Galway: Performed at concert
The mainly nationalist Garvaghy Road has been a focus for tension between the two communities over a parade by the Protestant Orange Order.

The Order feels it should be allowed to march down the road to the nearby church at Drumcree during its annual parade which takes place in July.

This has been opposed by many of the Garvaghy Road residents.

Also at the concert on Tuesday evening were the agriculture minister, the SDLP's Brid Rodgers, Gary McMichael of the loyalist Ulster Democratic Party and Breandan MacCionnaith of the Garvaghy Road Residents' Coalition.

Performers included Maire Brennan of Clannad and the Belfast flautist James Galway who said events like it were good for Northern Ireland.

"I think the name of the event, Both Sides Now, is where we are at," said Mr Galway.

"And we should be together, we should not be separate."

Later on Tuesday, about 300 loyalist protestors staged a demonstration at Portadown College where a reception was being held for those who had attended the concert.

Missiles were thrown at police. There were no reports of injuries and no arrests.

David Jones of the Portadown Orange Lodge, who was at the demonstration, said it was a spontaneous protest by local people.

David Jones
David Jones: "It was a spontaneous protest"
He accused the police of using heavy-handed tactics.

Mr Jones said: "I am not surprised that there were a number of missiles thrown, taking into account the police treatment of the protesters that were there.

"Some people were even hit with batons as they were standing on the footpath and were not involved in blocking any road or throwing any missiles."

There has been tension surrounding the Drumcree march for the past five years.

During July 1999 a major security operation was put in place in Portadown following serious violence at a protest by the Orange Order and their supporters on Drumcree hill in 1998.

The protest followed a decision by the Parades Commission in Northern Ireland to re-route the parade away from the Garvaghy Road.

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See also:

13 Oct 99 | Northern Ireland
Drumcree talks progress claims disputed
05 Jul 99 | UK Politics
Praise for Drumcree restraint
05 Jul 99 | UK
Can Drumcree be resolved?
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