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Monday, 10 July, 2000, 21:24 GMT 22:24 UK
Trimble rejects assembly recall
Orangemen around province support call for protest: Carlisle Circus Belfast
Orangemen around province support call for protest
Northern Ireland's First Minister David Trimble has rejected a call for the assembly to be recalled to discuss the Drumcree marching dispute.

The leader of Portadown Orangemen campaigning against a ban on Sunday's Drumcree march in County Armagh has called for Orange Order members to withdraw from the assembly as part of wide-scale loyalist protests around Northern Ireland.

William McCrae
William McCrae: Won't quit assembly
More than half of the 58 unionists in the assembly are Orangemen.

But there is no sign that they are ready to pull out.

Dismissing the Orange Order's call for the assembly to be recalled from its summer recess, Mr Trimble said an emergency meeting over Drumcree might make the situation worse rather than better.

Mid Ulster assembly man William McCrea of the anti-agreement Democratic Unionist Party said on Monday he would only leave Stormont if all Orangemen did the same.

"I am certainly not leaving it and walking out, and allowing Trimble, who is an Orangeman, to carry on his pro-agreement stance and to take us further down the Dublin road," he said.

"I'm not leaving Trimble to get closer and cuddled up to [Sinn Fein minister] Martin McGuinness."

The Portadown Orangemen have also called on unionist MPs to disrupt Commons business in support of Drumcree.

Little support for withdrawal

Of the 12 unionist MPs in the Commons, eight are Orangemen.

However, a former grand master of the Order has said he would not support the tactic.

Anti-agreement Ulster Unionist MP Martn Smyth said: "If folk disrupt business and defy the speaker's ruling, they will be suspended.

"It is a different world we are living in at the moment and we have to think it through again."
David Trimble and DUP leader Ian Paisley march in Portadown in 1995
Trimble with Paisley in 1995: Changing times

Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble marched with Portadown Orangemen and DUP leader Ian Paisley after a compromise over the disputed march on the Garvaghy Road in 1995.

At that time he told the watching media: "There was no compromise by us. We have come down our traditional route in normal form with our flags flying."

But speaking on Monday, the First Minister called on the Orange Order to talk to the Parades Commission, which for the third year running banned the annual march from Garvaghy Road following opposition from nationalist residents.

"The way to resolve this is through a dialogue with the commission," he said.

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See also:

10 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Protests grip Northern Ireland
10 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Troops move in at Drumcree
09 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Drumcree's hill of 'uneasy calm'
29 May 00 | Northern Ireland
The Stormont ministers
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