NIGHTMARE REVISITED FOR GARVAGHY RESIDENTS
Once again, the first Sunday in June has seen a military invasion of
Drumcree Hill in Portadown.
To prevent members of the Protestant Orange Order and their supporters
forcing their way into the nationalist Garvaghy Road, the area has been
turned into a war zone.
A convoy of military vehicles, loaded with heavy fortifications,
including earth-moving equipment, concrete blocks, and fencing moved
into place for what some predicted would be a "peaceful parade".
For nine years in a row, the Catholic enclave has come under siege by
unionists determined to strut past their homes against their will. The
Orangemen refuse to speak directly to the Garvaghy Road Residents'
Association, who oppose the march.
Reports of a change of heart by the Orangemen this year have proven
For the fifth year, the determined opposition of the Garvaghy residents
to this ritualised sectarian intimidation has ensured the march has
been re-routed away from the area.
As helicopters buzzed overhead, British Army engineers yesterday
erected concrete barriers and razor wire fences in the fields off
Once again, a barrier blocking the road to Drumcree church is in place,
while protective barriers have been erected around St John's Catholic
Church at the top of Garvaghy Road.
The Drumcree parade marches from Portadown to Drumcree along an
undisputed route. The marchers refuse to return by this route or a
similar route, instead insisting on parading back to the town centre
through the Garvaghy road.
It is an annual nightmare for Garvaghy residents. In previous years,
the confrontations have echoed those of civil rights demonstrators in
the US, with the RUC police brutally clearing the road for the
supremacist Orangemen by attacking peaceful demonstrations.
Since 1998, the march has been re-routed and the bridge just before
Garvaghy Road has been blocked.
But last year, Garvaghy residents could only watch in terror as the
security lines were almost overwhelmed by bowler-hatted Orangemen
rioting in full regalia.
A British Army spokesman claimed last night that the main barrier
across Drumcree bridge, though smaller, was more robust than last year.
As usual, breaking news from Drumcree will be passed on via this news
* In related news, the Parades Commission said Orangemen could not
return from their main Twelfth of July parade in Belfast by marching
along the nationalist Springfield Road in the west of the city.
However, they can parade towards the city centre along the road next
Sinn Fein councillor Tom Hartley said it was the only reasonable
decision the commission could have reached.
"Given that the marchers have continually broken the determinations
made by the commission it is my belief that they should not have been
allowed to march on the Springfield Road at all," he said.
"The reality is that the residents of the Springfield Road have made
imaginative proposal in an attempt to resolve the marching issue and
yet the Orange Order has still refused to enter into meaningful
He added: "While the decision is welcome we still see the Orange
rewarded for their intransigence and the residents punished despite
their genuine attempts to resolve the issue."
* Marching season tensions have been blamed for a brutal sectarian
attack on a young Catholic man in County Derry. The 28-year-old was
recovering in hospital yesterday after he was beaten and stabbed as he
walked along the Cloyfin Road close to Coleraine at around 4.30pm on
The victim had been set upon by three men wearing Rangers shirts, who
had emerged from a car brandishing iron bars. The man, who lives in the
Killowen area of Coleraine, was beaten with the iron bars and stabbed
repeatedly in the back.
The attackers then attempted to drag the bleeding man into their car,
but he managed to fight them off and run away.