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The BBC's Valerie Jones in Belfast
"By early evening the streets of Belfast were largely deserted"
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The BBC's Denis Murray
"The catholic residents had dismissed the Orange plan"
 real 56k

Portadown Orange leader Harold Gracey:
tells the BBC's Peter Hunt: "I won't condemn violence"
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Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson:
"Outcome may have been different if Orangemen moved earlier"
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Friday, 7 July, 2000, 19:31 GMT 20:31 UK
Drumcree parade ban stays
Security cordon in place to enforce Drumcree ban
Security cordon in place to enforce Drumcree ban
The Northern Ireland Parades Commission has upheld its decision to bar Sunday's contentious Drumcree parade from a nationalist area.

It reviewed its decision to stop the Orange Order march from entering the Garvaghy Road in Portadown, County Armagh, following fresh proposals from Portadown Orangemen.

The Portadown lodge suggested that talks about the disputed parade - which residents have been calling for as a precondition to any march on the Garvaghy Road - could take place after the parade went ahead.

In its ruling, the commission said that it had been "encouraged" by the proposal, but that the Orangemen had suggested a "sequencing" of parading first and talking afterwards, and this was unacceptable.

"The problem lies in the sequence they seek - namely a change of the determination for 9 July, following which these undertakings would be implemented, in contrast to our road map which envisaged a number of events occurring before, and leading to, a parade," it said.

The commission reviewed its earlier 3 July decision after meeting First Minister David Trimble's chief of staff on Friday and a lawyer for Portadown Orangemen on Friday.

Water cannon has been used on protesters at Drumcree
Water cannon has been used on protesters at Drumcree
Solicitor Richard Monteith said their meeting was "a proper legal challenge" and not a "stunt".

Under the proposal presented, only the Portadown Orangemen would march along the Garvaghy Road on Sunday.

The Portadown Orangemen would also continue premediation talks with a view to "full mediation".

They would also appoint a representative to a proposed Civic Forum which would involve Garvaghy Road residents.

Garvaghy residents' spokesman Breandan MacCionnaith dismissed the Orange offer as containing "nothing new" and as "a tired old proposal from tired old men out of touch with reality".

The commission said it was "considerably encouraged by the analysis and undertakings contained in the review application, and in the affidavit of Harold Gracey" (grand master of Portadown Orange lodge).

We have seen examples on both sides of unsuccessful efforts to maintain control over hooligan elements who own little allegiance to the principles or issues involved

Parades Commission
It said: "There is no doubt that Portadown District has demonstrated, as we noted above, a very real, concerned and, we believe, genuine desire to find a resolution to the Drumcree issue.

"We unreservedly welcome their undertakings to cancel all rallies, protest parades and other related activities; to continue to engage with Brian Currin; to urge others towards a peaceful resolution without violence; to take part in any civic forum; and to have a limited parade."

However, in a reference to the street violence across Northern Ireland over the past five days since Monday's decision to ban the parade, the commission said it had also "gone to considerable lengths to spell out that peaceful protest is not necessarily the same as lawful protest".

"We have seen examples on both sides of unsuccessful efforts to maintain control over hooligan elements who own little allegiance to the principles or issues involved," it said.

'Keep talking'

Speaking after the ruling Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson urged the Portadown Orangemen not to break off dialogue.

"The Parades Commission has set out a route map by which a march can take place in the future.

"In light of that, now is not the time to stop talking but the time to keep talking and I hope that all sides will do so," he said.

Orange Order Grand Master Robert Saulters
Robert Saulters call for halt to protests during Joey Dunlop funeral
Earlier on Friday, Harold Gracey refused to condemn the violence which has spread across Northern Ireland during a week of protests over the Drumcree march.

He also said talks with South African mediator Brian Currin would end if the Orangemen did not get to walk down the Garvaghy Road on Sunday.

On Friday morning the army installed further security measures in the fields surrounding Drumcree Church just outside Portadown.

In Belfast following a week of evening violence and road blocks the city was largely quiet on Friday evening.

The police reported that a bus had been hijacked and set on fire and a car seized on the Ligoniel Road in north Belfast by a crowd on a blockade.

The Northern Ireland Grand Master of the Orange Order Robert Saulters called for no protests to be held during Friday as a mark of respect to Northern Ireland motorcycle racing hero Joey Dunlop, whose funeral was attended by 50,0000 in Ballymoney, County Antrim.

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See also:

07 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Fifth night of Drumcree protests
07 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Orange leader 'won't condemn violence'
06 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Orange protests 'wrecking' tourism
06 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Picture gallery: Drumcree dispute
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