Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafesj

Post to this Thread - Sort Descending - Printer Friendly - Home


The Story of Drumcree

Brendy 12 Jul 00 - 09:06 AM
Brendy 12 Jul 00 - 09:11 AM
Brendy 12 Jul 00 - 09:15 AM
Bagpuss 12 Jul 00 - 10:07 AM
Brendy 12 Jul 00 - 10:43 AM
Wolfgang 12 Jul 00 - 10:48 AM
Bagpuss 12 Jul 00 - 10:54 AM
Brendy 12 Jul 00 - 11:13 AM
InOBU 12 Jul 00 - 11:52 AM
Brendy 12 Jul 00 - 11:57 AM
Fiolar 12 Jul 00 - 01:27 PM
Wolfgang 12 Jul 00 - 01:56 PM
Brendy 12 Jul 00 - 02:12 PM
GUEST,Ewan McVicar 12 Jul 00 - 02:21 PM
catspaw49 12 Jul 00 - 02:31 PM
McGrath of Harlow 12 Jul 00 - 02:45 PM
Brendy 12 Jul 00 - 03:00 PM
InOBU 12 Jul 00 - 03:31 PM
Roger in Sheffield 12 Jul 00 - 03:49 PM
catspaw49 12 Jul 00 - 03:56 PM
Bagpuss 12 Jul 00 - 04:05 PM
Brendy 12 Jul 00 - 07:16 PM
Lonesome EJ 12 Jul 00 - 08:55 PM
alison 12 Jul 00 - 09:43 PM
Brendy 12 Jul 00 - 10:37 PM
Big Mick 12 Jul 00 - 10:57 PM
rangeroger 12 Jul 00 - 11:02 PM
catspaw49 12 Jul 00 - 11:31 PM
paddymac 13 Jul 00 - 12:16 AM
paddymac 13 Jul 00 - 01:00 AM
The Shambles 13 Jul 00 - 03:56 AM
GUEST,Den at work 13 Jul 00 - 10:34 AM
Penny S. 16 Jul 00 - 04:45 PM
Big Mick 16 Jul 00 - 05:09 PM
Dave (the ancient mariner) 16 Jul 00 - 05:18 PM
GUEST,RobinKarel 16 Jul 00 - 05:38 PM
Bill D 16 Jul 00 - 06:28 PM
Sorcha 16 Jul 00 - 06:33 PM
Brendy 17 Jul 00 - 05:32 AM
GUEST,Den 17 Jul 00 - 11:05 AM
Wolfgang 27 Apr 01 - 08:48 AM
Fibula Mattock 27 Apr 01 - 10:31 AM
GUEST,yum yum 28 Apr 01 - 10:33 AM
Share Thread
more
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:







Subject: The Story of Drumcree
From: Brendy
Date: 12 Jul 00 - 09:06 AM

Portadown, a relatively wealthy and industrialised town in County Armagh, like the rest of the Six Counties, has always been a deeply divided society; power and authority have not been equally shared; civil and political rights along with wealth and the access to the sources of wealth have not been equally shared. It is an unpleasant reality that in housing, schools, in business life, in religion and in politics, Portadown is almost completely segregated. It is the town where I was born, grew up, and just this morning returned from, after witnessing some of the worst civil unrest since the mid 1970's. I have spent the last two weeks reliving the worst of those days.

To a large degree, Portadown can be viewed as a microcosm of Northern Ireland. Indeed, many of the sectarian and discriminatory practices carried out by the ruling majority at the cost of the Nationalist minority on the wider Six County basis are, perhaps, felt more acutely in Portadown.

Portadown is one of the largest towns in County Armagh and has a Unionist/Nationalist population of approximately 3: 1. The Nationalist community was historically based around the Obins Street area of the town, but due to the increasing population, large scale segregation due to the political conflict, and because of demographic changes the vast majority of that community now resides in those estates which sprawl along the Garvaghy Road. With the construction of schools, churches and many services and businesses, this area now has a degree of autonomy that makes it a clearly defined area resembling a small town.

The Nationalist area is one of chronic social and economic deprivation and impoverishment. Irrespective of whatever indicators of social need one cares to adopt, the Nationalist areas have been, and still remain the areas of most intense social need within Portadown. It is by no means an accident of fate that 70% of the Nationalist community in the town were found to be living on or below the poverty level which the British Government has set down, according to one recent survey.

That 70% compares with an average of 20% for the entire town, and starkly demonstrates that economic and social deprivation within the Nationalist areas, has been greater than that in the Unionist areas of the town. The introduction of the Housing Executive and Fair Employment Legislation may have lessened the effects of some of the discrimination but locally, in terms of undoing the damage of years of poverty and unemployment, have produced poor results. This fact in itself is an indictment on how discrimination and sectarianism have resulted in chronic social deprivation and cultural and political suppression of one substantial section of the population.

However the Nationalist/Catholic community has, from within itself, discovered how to develop the community and address many of its needs. There has been a growth in community spirit and a sense of ownership of Garvaghy Road/Drumcree area. The residents have formed clubs and associations with the aim of servicing the social needs of their area. Between St. Mary's Youth Club, the Ashgrove Community Centre and Drumcree Community Centre there are services for Kindergarten, Creche, youth club, disabled and handicapped, adult education, Irish culture (language classes, dance, literature) Old Age Pensioner services and activities. At all levels groups build links with the wider Portadown community. Sport is thriving with several different clubs within the area. After years of failure, groups have managed to attract significant funding for projects. Mayfair Business Centre and Bannside Development have brought over a million and a half pounds of investment to boost economic development.

All this voluntary activity and the cooperation with statutory bodies reflect a maturity and growing confidence of the Catholic/Nationalist residents. While the social deprivation means that the community suffers an excessive burden of social problems, it also produces a high proportion of young adults with good education.

Within the Garvaghy Road area one could have the impression that this is a healthy community which has dignity. It is in a position to have a healthy relationship with the wider Portadown community. This possibility is shattered each year during the "marching season" and compounded by severe restrictions placed by the police on the rights of Catholic/Nationalists to parade and to express one's communal, national and cultural identities. The manner by which conflict and deprivation of rights has been handled by the State is demonstrative of the flagrant manner in which the minority community in Portadown has been shamefully treated in relation to the majority community. Perhaps, nowhere else in Northern Ireland has that treatment been more fully exposed or has it resulted in the open and brutal humiliation of a Nationalist community.

While the events of July 1995, July 1996, and now, July 2000 have made the names of Drumcree and the Garvaghy Road echo around the world, the background to those events are often ignored in the media and by political commentators.

Parades by the Orange Order and its sister organisation the Royal Black Preceptory (RBP) have long proven themselves to be a source of major controversy for the town's Catholic/Nationalist community. That arises from the insistence of the Orange Order and others to route some of these parades through areas which are almost exclusively Catholic/Nationalist areas. For many years, Catholics/Nationalists have campaigned for, and actively demanded, the rerouting of these contentious parades away from their neighbourhoods. They view the whole issue as being simple and straightforward; one which questions the morality and justness of the State authorities in permitting any parade to proceed through an area where the vast majority of residents are opposed to it, and where residents openly and publicly withhold their consent from such parades and marches taking place.

We all recognise and uphold the fundamental value of freedom of speech and expression of all people and groups in a democratic state. We all aspire to an ideal situation where everyone can freely express their religious, political, cultural or ethnic identities through public celebration. However, in a society that has a plurality of identities the situation requires more complex arrangements. In a society that has experienced social and political strife, justice demands rigorous laws and radical committment of all to implement them. Where there are conflicts of rights, and one or both parties are unwilling or unable to resolve the conflict through voluntary accommodation, the law must arbitrate and do so fairly.

Northern Ireland is a bitterly divided society with a legacy of conflict between two main communities with their distinct identities. The right of freedom of expression must be exercised:
i) fairly,
ii) sensitively and
iii) with minority given due respect. In Portadown this has not been the case.
i) The majority tradition has been given freedom of expression throughout the town, with an excessive number of parades and excessive displays of symbols, while the minority community is restricted to their residential area;
ii) the excessive nature of the majority celebration, and their demand to celebrate their political, religious and cultural identity in the residential area of the minority, is blatantly insensitive to the feelings, dignity and rights of the minority community.
iii) the minority have not been given space to celebrate their culture, religion or politics in a manner consistent with their number.

On all three grounds there is a clear case of moral injustice. There are no moral grounds to demand a particular location of public celebration. Such a right is not recognized in any charter of rights currently endorsed internationally. There is an obvious alternative to the return leg of the Drumcree Church parade. The insensitivity of the return route, of this majority tradition parade of symbols and emblems, has resulted in serious public disorder in the area of the minority tradition. In recent times this disorder has been channelled into disciplined and dignified protest. This is a sign of a politically maturing minority. Does the law defend the rights of the minority in this situation? I believe there is adequate legislation to deal with the Portadown conflict. The chief failure has been the unwillingness of the government to restrict parades of the majority tradition, especially when they oppose the state in a structured way, and the inability of the police force to enforce the law impartially.

Furthermore, in a town where the Catholic population is a 6,000 minority and the Protestant population is a 16,000 majority, such parades through areas which are overwhelmingly Catholic take on an added significance - the dark suspicion and belief that these parades are an attempt by the majority to stamp their influence, and indeed, their supremacy upon the minority. That suspicion is added to even further when one realises that the route of these contentious parades lies directly along a road which is the main artery, if not the very heart, of the area where the vast majority of the town's Catholic population, over 1,500 families, reside.

In fact, the issue of Orange parades and the routes they take not only affects Portadown, but goes to the very heart of the Northern State. In no other democratic or western society would it be conceivable that the forces of the state would force a march or parade by one ethnic, political or religious group, through that of another. Especially one organised by an association whose members are required to strenuously oppose the religious and political beliefs of the resident community. The parallel, which a young Catholic woman drew on the Garvaghy Road on July 11th 1996, with marches by the Ku Klux Klan through Afro-American communities or National Front members through Jewish or other ethnic communities deals with the same moral and legal principles.

In a divided society moral justice demands that the exercise of the right to publicly celebrate one's religion, politics or culture be done fairly, sensitively and with due respect to minorities. In Portadown justice has not been done. The majority has acted with culpable insensitivity. This has resulted in public disorder.

The Orange Order is an exclusively Protestant organisation. Claims by the Order that it is a purely religious body concerned solely with the maintenance of the Protestant faith often ring hollow in Catholic ears. The Order's often publicised and direct ties with, and the influences which it can bring to bear upon, the political forces of Unionism are all too evident both historically and at present.

When Ireland was partitioned in 1921, the unifying focal point for many within the pro-union majority in the North of Ireland was the Orange Order, with its history of blatantly sectarian actions against the Catholic/Nationalist community. It was first established at the end of the 18th century and had grown in power and influence since then. By the 1920's and partition, the Orange Order had become the largest single block within the Ulster Unionist Council; the ruling body of the Ulster Unionist Party, the party which governed the Six Counties in what was in effect a one-party state until the abolition of Stormont, the Northern Parliament, in 1972. During the lifetime of the Stormont regime, over half of the seats held by Unionists were uncontested at elections.

Proportional representation was abolished for local elections in 1922 and for Stormont elections in 1929. This was deliberately designed to minimize the Catholic/Nationalist opposition, a tactic which, aided by the gerrymandering of electoral boundaries, concentrated the non-unionist vote into a smaller number of constituencies. This gerrymandering of electoral boundaries ensured the election of Unionist controlled local government bodies even in areas such as Derry, where there was clear and substantial Nationalist majority.

Membership of the Orange Order was then, and still appears to remain, an essential pre-requisite to political advancement within the Unionist Party and Government. All but three members of the various Ulster Unionist cabinets which governed the North from 1921 to 1972 were members of the Orange Order. One former minister of Home Affairs, W. W. B. Topping, once remarked that the Unionist Party would be worthless without the Orange Order. James Craig, the first Prime Minister of the Northern State, admitted that his membership of the Orange Order meant more to him than his seat in Parliament.

Such was the influence wielded by the Orange Order over the Stormont regime, that according to Henry Patterson, Professor of Politics at Queen's University,

"There is clear evidence in the Public Record Office in Belfast in the 1920's and 1930's that Sir Charles Blackmore, who was Cabinet Secretary, was essentially a messenger boy for the Orange Order. He would go to Sir James Craig, the Prime Minister, and Sir Wilfred Spender, the head of the civil service, and convey Orange Order fears about this or that civil servant who was either a Catholic or believed to be a Catholic, or who was actually married to a Catholic."

This paranoia reached its height in 1934, when the Orange Order interfered to have a Catholic gardener at Stormont sacked because of his religion. "This Catholic, " says Patterson "had volunteered in the first World War. He had a magnificent army record and a reference from the Prince of Wales." (Irish Times, July 1995)

These ties between the Unionist Party and the Orange Order were replicated throughout the North at local level, as a brief, cursory look at the Orange/Unionist relationship in Portadown shows.

Five of the seven men who have held the post of District Master of the Order in Portadown since partition were also prominent members of the Unionist Party.
W.H. Wright, District Master until 1926, was a legal advisor to both Portadown and Lurgan town Councils, and the Secretary of North Armagh Unionist Association. He was also credited with having played a leading role in the formation of the Ulster Volunteer Force.
Major David Shillington was a Unionist MP at Stormont and a Cabinet minister for several years during the 1930's and 40's.
Dr. George Dougan was also a Unionist MP.
Robert Magowan was an elected representative for almost forty years, from 1926 until 1964. During that time he held the posts of Chairman of Portadown Urban Council and Mayor of Portadown Borough Council on several occasions. Magowan not only held the post of District Master but also that of County Grand Master.
Herbert Whitten, District Master of the Order in Portadown from 1968 - 1981, was also very prominent in Unionist politics. A Mayor of Portadown and also of Craigavon Borough Council, Whitten was a Unionist MP as well.
Other Portadown Orangemen who were leading figures in the controlling Unionist Party included Isaac Hawthorne, another MP and one time Chief Whip in the Stormont Parliament.
W.H. Wolsley, a leading Orangeman who became Mayor of Portadown in the 50's, was later to receive "the compliments of LOL 89 for his services to the brethren whilst being a member of the Council."
In the fifties and sixties, prominent Orangemen with Unionist political ties included Robert Williamson (a Mayor of Portadown), Councillors J.G. McCann and Ernest Downey.
One Orange lodge alone, LOL 608, has provided three Mayors of Portadown - Edward Cassells, Frank Dale and Alfred Martin; one Mayor Craigavon in 1994-95, Brian Maginness; and one chairman of Armagh District Council, George McCartney.

The influence of the Orange Order was used in February 1978 to cheek two straying Unionist Councillors of Craigavon Borough Council whose votes had helped carry a motion in favour of Sunday opening of Brownlow Recreation Centre. A candid letter from the District Master of Portadown Orangeism, Councillor Herbert Whitten was enough to bring the two straying sheep back into the fold. The council was then able to rescind its' decision on March 6th.

Throughout the 1970's and 80's, the Unionist controlled Craigavon council earned notoriety as a result of being found guilty of discriminatory practices by the courts. On one occasion this led to 12 Unionist councillors, amongst whom were several well-known members of the Orange Order, being surcharged for their actions and disqualified from holding public office. The twelve were found to have been guilty of conducting a campaign of discrimination against a local Gaelic football club.

In a judgement in the High Court relating to this case, Lord Justice Lowry attacked "the unjustified action of a majority of the council who appear to have been motivated by sectarian bias."

In March 1985, the then Mayor of Craigavon was one of the most prominent of those who prevented a St. Patrick's Day parade being held by Nationalists in Portadown. The former Westminster MP for Upper Bann, the late Harold McCusker, left many of his Catholic constituents in Portadown with an indelible memory with his beating of a Lambeg drum as he took part in Orange marches through their neighbourhood.

Indeed, it is no secret that the Orange Order played a major role in securing the leadership of the Ulster Unionist Party for David Trimble in 1995 following his prominent role during the standoff at Drumcree, caused by the opposition of local residents to an Orange March along the Garvaghy Road. It is with unfailing regularity that many Unionist elected representatives like Trimble and other Unionist party officials are seen to take up prominent positions in the Order itself, as well as in these parades.

Added to this is the obvious and very public opposition of the Orange Order to Catholic/Nationalist aspirations. July 12 resolutions, such as those abhorring the Nationalist aspiration "of a united Ireland, no matter however modern or accommodating it has promised to become" or those which attack Government financial aid to the Catholic education system in the North, for example, merely fuel the perception that the Orange tradition is directly opposed to the aspirations and faith of the minority population. Such public stances and political ties would appear to fly in the face of claims that the Order prides itself on the principle of civil and religious liberty for all.

The role of the RUC in relation to the parades' issue is also viewed with mistrust by most of the Catholic/Nationalist community. The overwhelming RUC presence needed to secure the passage of these parades through areas where their presence is totally unwelcomed is seen to be oppressive and heavy handed. For historical and other reasons, including the RUC's hostile attitude towards the Nationalist community in general, this only adds to the sense of bias and injustice.

Furthermore, the fact that many members of the RUC are themselves members of the Orange Order, or its' sister organisations, the Black Preceptory and the Apprentice Boys, calls into question their ability to behave in an impartial and unbiased manner in relation to the issue of these marches. It is believed that 30% of RUC personnel are in the Loyal Orders. A number of RUC personnel are currently under investigation for having participated in illegal blockades during July 1996 in support of the Portadown Orangemen at Drumcree.

This relationship between Orangeism and Unionism is seen by the Catholic/Nationalist community to politicise parades by the Orange Order. These feelings are supported by the above facts. An Orange "Church" parade cannot pretend to be a merely or exclusively a religious affair and demand privileges that a society might rightly bestow to a purely religious event. It is clearly a significant political statement and therefore ought to be treated as such in the debate on freedom of expression.

It is the link between the Orange Order, Unionism and the RUC, and their synchronised operation in forcing parades on through areas where they are unwelcome, which strengthen in Catholic/Nationalist eyes the perceptions of Orange parades as instruments of, and vehicles for, Protestant/Unionist domination; and which add to their own feelings of inequality and alienation. Now the RUC are been seen as 'Traitors', and effigies of them burned on bonfires across the North of Ireland on the eleventh (last) night.

As had been proven in 1996 the RUC, charged with the impartial implementation of the law, could not act impartially because a significant proportion of the force were members of the political organization that was breaking the law.

The Loyal Orders, especially the Orange Order, have confronted two very different opponents: the Catholics (residents of Armagh) and the British State. Two questions motivate the research: what is the relation between the political and religious natures of the conflict? And what does the Loyal Order demand of the state?

"The Orange Institution has been at pains to avoid confrontation and to conduct themselves with the utmost decorum as befitting a religious organisation".
Orange Order statement, July 1995.
"Orange Order parades in the Obins Street-Garvaghy road area have a history and tradition dating back to a time when nationalists raised no objections to the parades"
Orange Order statement, July 1995
"The fact is, the parade does cause annoyance to many of the Ballyoran-Garvaghy residents, as shown by the loud protests over the past years"
Portadown Times Editorial July 7 1995

According to the historian Andrew Boyd, Orange Societies of one type or another did exist prior to the establishment of the Orange Order at Loughgall in September 1795.

That such societies did in fact exist can be seen clearly from a call by the then rector of Drumcree Church, the Rev. George Maunsell, at a Sunday service in June 1795, when he implored his congregation to "celebrate the anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne in the true spirit of the institution" by attending a service to be conducted by a Rev. Devine on July 1st. This same Rev. Maunsell, who later became Dean of Leighlin, was one of the "few of the resident gentry of the County" who originally joined the Orange Order in its' early days according to the memoirs of William Blacker, a major landlord and very influential figure in North Armagh and one of the prime movers in establishing the Order. That July 1st service was to be the antecedent of the Orange Orders later church services at Drumcree. The historian Francis Plowden described what happened after the Rev. Devine's service on page 17 of his "History of Ireland" (Vol. I, published 1809).

"This evangelical labourer in the vineyard of the Lord of Peace so worked up the minds of his audience, that upon retiring from service, on the different roads leading to their respective homes, they gave full scope to the anti-papistical zeal with which he had inspired them, falling upon every Catholic they met, beating and bruising them without distinction, breaking the doors and windows of their houses, and actually murdering two unoffending peasants who were digging in a bog. This unprovoked atrocity of Protestants revived and redoubled religious rancour. The flame spread and threatened a contest of extermination."

It was two months later, after another bloody sectarian confrontation, known as the Battle of the Diamond, in a townland near the village of Loughgall in County Armagh, that the first Orange lodge was set up and the first Orangemen sworn into membership.

The Battle of the Diamond, in which 30 Catholics and no Protestants were killed, was one of the worst outrages in what historians have referred to ever since as the Armagh outrages - widespread intimidation and terror.

Hundreds of families, most of them Catholics, were forced to leave their homes when threatened by armed men in the dead of night and to flee the county entirely. At a meeting convened by the Governor of County Armagh, Lord Gosford, on December 28th 1795, thirty magistrates reached the following resolution:

"Resolved, that it appears to this meeting, that the County of Armagh is at present in a state of uncommon disorder, that the Roman Catholic inhabitants are grievously oppressed by lawless persons unknown, who attack and plunder their homes by night and threaten them with instant destruction, unless they abandon immediately their lands and habitations......
"It is no secret, that a persecution, accompanied with all the circumstances of ferocious cruelty, which in all ages have distinguished that calamity, is now raging in the County.....
"The only crime, which the wretched objects of this ruthless persecution are charged with, is a crime indeed of easy proof:
"It is simply a profession of the Roman Catholic faith, or an intimate connection with a person professing that faith....
"It is nothing less than a confiscation of all property and an immediate banishment. It would be extremely painful, and unnecessary to detail the horrors that attend the execution of so rude and tremendous a proscription. A proscription that certainly exceeds, in the comparative number of those it consigns to ruin and misery, every example that ancient and modern history can supply; for where have we heard, or in what story of human cruelties have we read of more than half the inhabitants of a populous county, deprived at one blow of the means, as well as the fruits of their industry, and driven in the midst of an inclement season, to seek shelter for themselves and their families where chance may guide them.
"This is no exaggerated picture of the horrid scenes now acting in the county. Yet surely it is sufficient to awaken sentiments of indignation and compassion in the coldest bosoms. These horrors are now acting with impunity.
"The spirit of impartial justice (without which law is nothing better than an instrument of tyranny) has for a time disappeared in the county, and the supineness of the magistracy of Armagh is become a common topic of conversation in every corner of the Kingdom."

The resolution passed at that meeting was referred to by Henry Grattan in Parliament in February 1796 when he spoke of the "horrid persecution", "abominable barbarity" and "general extermination" being conducted in County Armagh against the Catholic population. When questioned in the House of Commons, James Verner, M.P., attributed these atrocities to what he termed "the Orange Boys".

In Freeman's Journal of February 27, 1796, a Colonel Craddock who had been sent to Ireland to take control of the situation in County Armagh was reported as having

"Avowed that the conduct of the Orangemen , or Protestants, was atrocious to the highest degree; and that their persecution of the Defenders, or Catholics, should be resisted and punished with the whole force of the Government."

The Colonel went on to confirm that the Catholic Defenders were retaliating against the Orangemen out of sheer exasperation. This was mainly due to the Orange policy of "wrecking" which was being perpetrated against the Catholic population. The "wreckers" operations ranged from murder and arson to the destruction of crops, animals, looms and furnishings. Craddock also confirmed that it was retaliation by the Catholic Defenders against such acts which led to the major conflict at the Diamond.

James Christie. a member of the Society of Friends also known as the Quakers, later gave evidence to the Parliamentary Select Committee investigation into the Orange Order on July 10

"...it was termed "wrecking" when the parties broke open the door and smashed everything that was capable of being broken in the house .... they threw the furniture out of the house smashed; and in other cases they set fire to the house."

Mr. Christie told of 12-14 Catholic houses being burned in one night outside Portadown in 1795 and of Catholic churches being attacked in various parts of North Armagh. He also spoke of the belongings and land of the purged Catholic community being distributed to Protestants.

By the end of 1796, an estimated 3,500 Catholics had been terrorised and driven out of their homes in County Armagh by Verner's "Orange Boys", and their campaign of wrecking.

On July 12 1797, the first Grand Committee of the Orange Order was appointed at a meeting in Portadown. Later that year, a new headquarters was established in Dublin at the Dawson Street residence of James Verner's student sons, where Orange Lodge No. 176 was already based.

By the turn of the 18th century the Orange Order had grown and infiltrated every aspect of the established Protestant society. It's belligerent demonstrations increased in frequency and violence. Again in July 1805, Henry Grattan once more forthrightly condemned the nature and activities of the Orange Order in the House of Commons.

On August 18th 1812 a Judge Fletcher stated quite unequivocally that:

"Orange societies have produced the most mischievous effects... they poison the very foundations of justice... With these Orange Associations I connect the Commemorations and Processions .... and I do emphatically state it as my settled opinion, that until these associations are effectually put down and the arms taken from their hands, in vain will the North of Ireland expect tranquility or peace."

A report in the Belfast News Letter of August 21, 1812, shows vividly how widespread the Orange philosophy had become. The entire Armagh Yeomanry was disbanded by the Lord Lieutenant due to "insubordination." The first instance of this insubordination came to light on the 2nd of July when a sergeant and nine privates were dismissed for refusing to serve under an officer who had signed a petition in favour of Catholic Emancipation. "A mutinous spirit" was then said to have become manifest amongst the Yeomanry throughout the county. As a result, the authorities were left with no other option but to disband what in had become the Orange Order's military wing in County Armagh. Previous to their disbandment, it was commonplace for entire companies of Yeomen, to take part in Orange parades wearing full ceremonial uniform.

During a speech in the House of Commons in July 1815, Henry Parnell pointed out that no less than 14 petitions had been presented to Parliament imploring the attention of the legislature to the Orange Order and he stated that:

"To the existence of Orange Lodges in Ireland, was mainly attributed the disturbances of the public peace, particularly by the celebrations of processions with certain insignia, etc., that, besides the agitation which these necessarily produced they beget a counter spirit among the people that led to animosities, which, in their consequences, produced riots."

A party of Orangemen returning from Middletown on July 12, 1822, attacked Catholic homes at Cruskeenan and murdered a Catholic named Patrick Grimley. At the inquest five days later, it was allege that two sons of the Rev. Nathaniel Smith, rector of Madden, and another man named Brown had attacked Grimley in his own home with swords and a pistol. Rev. Smith stood bail for another Orangeman accused of wrecking Catholic-owned homes.

At Armagh Assizes on July 26th Judge Jebb, in an obvious reference to the Orange Order's influence, described as a "...great neglect on the part of the magistrates and gentlemen of the county who have failed to make anyone amenable for the murder" and exhorted them to discard private influence and encourage men of good character to join the police force.

"Had this been done" said the judge, "the murder would not have occurred nor the perpetrators have escaped"

Within a few months the Rev. Smith's son, Samuel, was charged with Grimley's murder. Evidence was given that Smith junior had led the parade on the 12th and had incited the Orangemen to attack Catholics. He was found not guilty.

On July 17th 1822 a petition from John Lawless, the editor of a Belfast newspaper, was presented to the House Of Commons by a Mr. Brougham, M.P. for Winchelsea. The petition complained of illegal 12th July processions and gave instances of riotous behaviour by the Orangemen. The M.P. for Knaresborough, Sir James Mackintosh, also stated in relation to the Orange Order parades that
"This was the only instance in the history of nations where a minority of conquerors continued to insult the people of a country through a series of ages down to the present period"

Sir James went on to describe the parades as an annual insult to the people of Ireland and a libel upon the memory of King William.
The following year four Orangemen were tried and acquitted of the murder of a Catholic, Michael Campbell, at Killileagh in county Armagh. Campbell had been shot dead and several other Catholics wounded by Orangemen taking part in a July parade. Discharging them, the trial judge (Johnston) said:

"They all knew the strong feeling that prevailed in the county regarding their silly processions. Was it to triumph over the fallen - to exult in victory - to insult a large portion of their fellow subjects that they made such mischievous exhibitions?"

The activities of the Orange Order led to its' attempted suppression by an Act of Parliament in 1825 chiefly because of the sectarian turmoil and disruption caused by its annual parades, as events in Keady, Killileagh and other places proved. The Grand Lodge of Ireland dissolved itself as a consequence of this new law. Nevertheless, on July 12th of that year, Portadown Orangemen defied the authorities and marched through the town. Magistrates unsuccessfully ordered the dispersal of the marchers, but the police force available was said to have been found insufficient, and the brethren were able to march unhindered.

In July of 1826, twenty-one Orangemen were charged with offenses arising out of an incident at Tartaraghan on the outskirts of Portadown. Despite the evidence of eye-witnesses, including the local Catholic parish priest, Rev. Coleman, all were acquitted of the attack and destruction of a Catholic place of worship.

Portadown magistrate, Mr. C. Woodhouse, in a last minute effort to prevent an unlawful Orange parade taking place on July 12 1827, called all the local leaders of the Orange Order together that morning. The Orangemen refused to listen to his appeal, and some 5,000 were said to have marched through the town that day.

1828 saw Orangemen in Belfast and a number of other areas abide by the wishes of the authorities and they didn't march at all. However, Portadown Orangemen displayed their contempt and disregard for those same authorities by parading as usual with flags flying and discharging their firearms.

Such was the concern surrounding the July parades in 1829 that magistrates met in Belfast on July 7th. According to The News Letter, the meeting took place "at the request of the Marquis of Donegal, in consequence of some information that the processions of Orangemen here would probably endanger the public peace."

Almost 20.000 Orangemen again defied the authorities and marched through Portadown that same month.

There was widespread rioting and shootings across the North with serious sectarian disturbances breaking out in Armagh, Strabane, Newtownstewart, Castlewellan, Enniskillen , Stewartstown and Maghera. One Belfast newspaper claimed that up to twenty people had been killed as a result of the disturbances. The District Master of the Order in Armagh city, Mr. G. Tyrell, was charged with having caused the riots there on July 13.

In November 1830, an Orange parade through the village of Maghery, a few miles from Portadown resulted in most of the houses in that locality being destroyed and the inhabitants fleeing for their lives. Evidently, the Orangemen were still maintaining their policy of "wrecking" which had proved so effective in the past. Residents of the predominantly Catholic village were to give evidence before the Parliamentary Select Committee investigation into the Orange Order in 1835.

The Party Processions Act which was given the Royal Assent in 1832, and which was to be enforced for the next five years, was continuously defied by Portadown Orangemen. Commenting on the Act at Armagh Summer Assizes in 1833, a Judge Moore said:

"Its object was to put an instant stop to parties marching in procession, with colours, badges, or other insignia, calculated to create a disturbance or arouse religious and political animosity in His Majesty's Roman Catholic subjects."

In June 1833, the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland issued a directive to senior police officers around the country regarding the forthcoming July parades. He expressed his hope that "there will be no recurrence, on the 12th July, of those assemblies which have proved so destructive of the peace of the country" which he described as a "custom, not only mischievous in its effects, but in violation of the law, the utmost aid of the Government will be afforded for the suppression of such assemblies." All police were instructed to note the names of persons taking part or making speeches with a view to prosecution.

On July 12th 1833, an estimated 20,000 Orangemen and their supporters paraded illegally through Portadown to Carrickblacker House, the residence of Lieutenant Colonel William Blacker, one of the most influential figures within the entire Orange Order. Fourteen Orangemen were later charged with taking part in the proceedings, three of whom were bound over to keep the peace while the others were set free.

The authorities in Dublin Castle who were becoming increasingly alarmed at the activities of Blacker later stripped him of his commission and dismissed him as a Justice of the Peace for County Armagh.

On the same day as the Carrickblacker demonstration, Orangemen, who most likely had taken part in that affair, paraded through Ballyhagan, a mainly Catholic area outside Portadown, attacking and severely injuring a number of Catholics. A petition complaining of the collusion of Portadown magistrates and police in preventing the prosecution of twenty one identified members of the attackers was sent to the Marquis of Anglesey, the Lord- Lieutenant General and Governor General of Ireland. The leading Orangeman, William Blacker was the chairman of the petty sessions at Portadown. Joseph Atkinson, who also sat at the petty sessions was not only an Orangeman but was also related to one of the accused.

The petitioners claimed that their lives had been threatened to stop them giving evidence and went on to state that,

"Before a tribunal, constituted as the petty sessions of Portadown, they do not believe their case would receive such an investigation as the ends of justice and the vindication of laws require;

"The petitioners further humbly beg leave to represent to your Excellency, that from the well-known principles of a large majority of the magistrates in Armagh, and the selection of the juries of that County, most of whom are composed of Orangemen, that there is little probability of petitioner's cause receiving a fair and impartial trial and judgement, particularly if same be tried in the court of quarter sessions; and petitioners, therefore, humbly hope, that your Excellency may be pleased to order a magistracy of the county to take informations against such persons as can be identified who composed the unlawful assembly and committed the outrage in question; and that such information may be returned to the assizes, and the parties accused dealt with in the mean time according to law."

Hugh Donnelly, a 29 year old Catholic from Drumcree was killed after being struck on the head with a stone during a confrontation with Orangemen in 1835. Six out of seven Orangemen indicted for his murder at the County Armagh Summer Assizes were found guilty on the lesser charge of manslaughter.

The behaviour of the Orangemen in general can be gauged by evidence submitted to the Parliamentary Select Committee by a County Armagh magistrate, William J. Hancock, a Protestant, in relation to July 1835 in Portadown.

"For some time past the peaceable inhabitants of the parish of Drumcree have been insulted and outraged by large bodies of Orangemen parading the highways, playing party tunes, firing shots, and using the most opprobrious epithets they could invent .... A body of Orangemen, wearing Orange lilies, marched through the town ... and proceeded to Drumcree Church, passing by the Catholic chapel though it was a considerable distance out of their way .... On Sunday, Monday, and Monday night, and a great deal of Tuesday, the peaceable citizens of the town were alarmed and terrified by the frequent discharge of musketry, accompanied by the most menacing language .... a tenant of Mr. Brownlow's was severely beaten by a body of Orangemen, armed with deadly weapons, hatchets, etc."

Effigies of Mr. Hancock, who was responsible of gathering much of the evidence against the Orange Order locally for submission to the Select Committee, were burned in Tandragee and Portadown.

The British Government established a Parliamentary Select Committee to investigate the activities of the Orange Order in 1835. The Committee studied a wide range of evidence and submissions concerning the Order before issuing a report. As can be seen from the following extract of the report, the Parliamentary Committee was quite explicit in recognising the inherent sectarian nature of the Orange Order and its associated parades -

"The obvious tendency and effect of the Orange Society is to keep up an exclusive society in civil and military life, exciting one portion of the people against the other; to increase rancour and animosity too often, unfortunately, existing between different religious persuasions ... by processions on particular days, attended with insignia of the society, to excite to breaches of the peace and to bloodshed."

When the report was published, a Cabinet Council meeting was held at the Foreign Office for the purpose of agreeing the terms of the resolutions to be submitted to the House of Commons by Lord John Russell, Secretary of State for the Home Department on Tuesday 23rd February 1836.

The first of the two resolutions submitted to the House of Commons is worthwhile remembering given the events surrounding the Drumcree Orange parade of July 1996 -

"That it is the opinion of this House that the existence of any political society in Ireland, consisting exclusively of persons preferring one religious faith, using secret signs and symbols, and acting by means of affiliated branches, tend to injure the peace of society - to derogate from the authority of the Crown, to weaken the supremacy of the law and to impair the religious freedom of His Majesty's subjects in that part of the United Kingdom."

The resolutions were presented to the King who replied to the House of Commons on February 25th 1836 through Lord John Russell. The following is the King's reply -

"WILLIAM REX - I willing assert to the prayer of my faithful Commons, that I will be pleased to take such measures as shall seem advisable for the effectual discouragement of Orange Lodges, and generally of all political societies excluding persons of a different religious persuasion using signs and symbols, and acting by means of associated lodges. It is my firm intention to discourage all such Societies, and I rely on the fidelity of my loyal subjects to support me in my determination."

The following day, the Grand Master of the Orange Order, the Duke of Cumberland, who was in fact the King's brother, sent a letter to Russell stating that he would take all legal steps to have the Order dissolved.

On April 13th 1836 the Grand Lodge met in Dublin and voted in favour of dissolving the Orange Institution - in accordance with the King's wishes. Yet while that was the official public response, the reality was that the Orange Order continued to exist.

Portadown Orangemen were again to demonstrate their extremism and contempt for the King to whom they supposedly professed loyalty. A meeting was held on June 13 with many influential Portadown Orangemen present. The meeting decided that since the Grand Lodge no longer existed, the County Armagh Grand Lodge would now take control of the Orange Order and William Blacker was elected the new Grand Master.

In July Orangemen paraded defiantly through the town and at least 50 later appeared in court for taking part in the unlawful procession. All were released on bail of sums of #10-#50, quite substantial amounts at that time.

The Orange Order continued to remain in existence as a major political force, particularly in County Armagh, in open defiance of the King and Parliament.

Police and magistrates failed to prevent an Orange march from entering a Catholic part of Armagh City on July 12th 1845. The march sparked of a major riot between the Orangemen, many of whom were armed, and the Catholic residents. One Catholic died and several others were injured when the Orangemen opened fire. Three Orangemen were later convicted of manslaughter and received extremely light sentences ranging from one to four months

Twelfth of July parades in Belfast provoked the worst outbreak of sectarian violence seen in the city since the turn of the century. Rioting continued in Belfast until September and a Royal Commission appointed to inquire into the violence indicted the Orange Order

"The Orange system seems to us now to have no other practical result than as a means of keeping up the Orange festivals and celebrating them; leading, as they do, to violence, outrage, religious animosities, hatred between the classes and, too often, bloodshed and loss of life."

In a letter to the Northern Whig newspaper in October 1857, Lord Chancellor Brady supported what the Royal Commission had said:

"It is manifest that the existence of this Orange Society, and the conduct of many who belong to it, tend to keep up, through large districts of the North, a spirit of bitter and factious hostility."

1859 saw four people appear in court as a result of disturbances in Portadown during an Orange march that July.

More serious was the result of an Orange march on July 12th 1860 at Derrymacash, situated between Lurgan and Portadown. A total of sixteen Catholic inhabitants were shot by those taking part in the parade, one of whom died later. A number of Catholic homes were wrecked and the Catholic chapel attacked. No Orangemen were injured, but, subsequently, twelve of them were found guilty of taking part in a riot at Derrymacash, and a thirteenth Orangeman was found guilty of the manslaughter of Thomas Murphy, the Catholic who died. At the inquest into Murphy's death, lawyers acting for the deceased's family unsuccessfully attempted to have members of the Orange Order barred from sitting on the jury.

The Derrymacash outrage led to the passing of an amended Party Processions Act in August 1860. The amended Act forbade the carrying of arms and wearing party colours in processions. Like previous legislation aimed at curtailing the activities of the Orange Order, it had little or no effect, particularly in County Armagh where many members of the judiciary, military and police, if not actual members of the Order, were either openly sympathetic to, or intimidated by, Orangeism.

Prior to the 1864 July parades, Lord Enniskillen, the Grand Master of the Orange Order issued an appeal to all Orangemen in which he said,

"I have heard, with much sorrow, a report that some of you have expressed an intention of celebrating our revered anniversaries by Processions and otherwise, in such a manner as to violate the Act of Parliament enacted against them.
"My earnest advice and request, therefore, brethren, is that you should strictly abstain from emblems, music, processions, and all other acts forbidden by law."

Needless to say, the Portadown Orangemen ignored their Grand Master's plea and paraded around the town unhindered by the authorities.

Although no major incidents were reported in Portadown, Belfast exploded in an cycle of sectarian violence which lasted eighteen days and left 12 people dead and over 100 others seriously injured.

The purely sectarian and anti-Catholic nature of the Orange Order was demonstrated vigorously in September, 1867. Orangemen, complete with bands and drumming parties, assembled outside St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Portadown's William Street during the annual mission retreat which had been organised by the Passionist Fathers. People were attacked on their way to and from chapel, and one of the priests was knocked unconscious. The parish priest, Fr. Hughes, was reported to have urged the men of the parish to band together for their own protection. The RIC Sub-Inspector for Portadown was later stated in the press as declaring that the number of men under his command were not sufficient to keep back the Orangemen.

Calls by a Protestant Justice of the Peace and by leading members of the town's Catholic community for extra police to be drafted into Portadown to deal with an Orange March in July 1873 went unheeded. The Orangemen paraded into the Catholic Obins Street area, provoking what one senior RIC man described as the worst riots he had witnessed anywhere in twenty years. Shots were fired by Orangemen, several business premises and many homes along the length of Obins Street were wrecked. 33 people were later charged with having taken part in an unlawful assembly and riot.

In December of that year, another Orange demonstration to commemorate the Relief of Derry, and attended by upwards of 3,000 Orangemen was held in the town. Orangemen paraded into William Street where the Catholic Church and parochial house were attacked and other Catholic-owned property damaged. An attempt by the Orange parade to enter Obins Street was prevented by police.

Following appeals from Catholic businessmen and clergy in Lurgan, magistrates there ordered the rerouting of an Orange parade away from the Catholic part of the town on July 12th 1877. It was stated in the House of Commons that the parade had been rerouted in order to prevent any breach of the peace. No such rerouting was ordered in Portadown where RIC reinforcements were drafted in and concentrated in Obins Street to ensure free passage for an Orange parade through the area on the same date.

Serious rioting erupted in 1879 when Orange parades passed through the Obins street area of the town on Easter Monday.

July also brought fresh outbreaks of trouble during an Orange march through the same area. Sectarian violence also occurred in 1880 and 1882 in the Obins Street area as a result of the marches.

In 1883 questions were asked in the House Of Commons regarding attacks upon the Catholic Church, Catholic homes and other Catholic-owned property in Portadown during an Orange march in that year.

Twenty seven people were charged with rioting and disorderly behaviour in Obins Street on the 12th and 13th of July 1886 when Orange marchers paraded through the district.

The conduct of Portadown Orangemen was again raised in the House of Commons in July 1887 when the Chief Secretary was questioned about an incident which occurred when the Orange Order had marched through Obins Street, under police escort, on their way to Drumcree on Sunday July 10th. It was stated that a Catholic man had been seriously injured by Orangemen as the police looked on.

Nine men from the Obins St. area appeared in court on September 29th 1891 charged with riotous behaviour. Most of the men were members of the Nationalist "Tunnel" Accordion Band. Apparently the Band had taken part in a Nationalist protest against Orange marches being allowed into that area of the town. The chairman of the court said that he thought the Orange march should not have been in the area.

While a large contingent of armed RIC men ensured no trouble took place on either Sunday 10th or Tuesday 12 July 1892 during Orange parades through Obins Street, only 14 police were on duty in the area on the 13th July. An estimated 2,000 members of the Orange Order and Black Preceptories returning from the Sham Fight in Scarva were due to parade through the small Catholic enclave that evening. Immediately upon the parade's entry into the area, at 6. 10 pm, vicious rioting broke out, with the Orange and Black-men running amok in the area and Catholic residents attempting to defend their homes. In the face of desperate resistance the marchers retreated, only to attempt another second march at around 7.00 pm. Again an intense period of rioting broke out which lasted around 30 minutes before the marchers were repulsed by the residents and the small RIC force. By 7.00 pm. the marchers again had regrouped ready for their third attempt to storm the area. This time they came armed and Catholics waiting for them at the "Tunnel" bridge fled when fired upon. The Orange and Black marchers then made their way halfway along the street smashing houses before the Catholic crowd charged them. The RIC, who had retreated to the barracks to arm themselves, reappeared and charged the marchers with fixed bayonets, driving the attackers out of the area for the third and final time. An extra 100 armed police were drafted into the area that night and more arrived the following morning.

On August 12th further trouble erupted in the town when the Apprentice Boys were prevented from marching through Obins Street. Violence erupted when the Apprentice Boys were forced by police to take an alternative route. Marchers and their supporters then proceeded to attack Catholic-owned property around the town.

During the following years, however, large forces of police escorted the Orange and other marches through the Obins Street area, placing the local residents under a virtual state of martial law. Those in charge of policing obviously believed it was more prudent to capitulate in the face of Orange violence than to protect and defend the rights of the town's Catholic community.

The anti-Catholic nature of the Order again raised its head at the opening of Derryhale Orange Hall in July 1899. The ceremony chaired by the Portadown District Master, W. J. Locke, who was also a Unionist politician and a Justice of the Peace. According to the local press, one speaker at the ceremony attacked those Portadown Protestants who employed, sold land or consorted with "Papist rebels", and one businessman was accused of "helping to plant Popery" in the town by selling land to Catholics "on which to build a nunnery."

Following severe disturbances at an Orange Rally in Portadown in 1900, the M.P. for Monaghan North, Mr. McAleese asked the Attorney General why there had been no convictions of the mob who had caused so much damage in the town. Catholic homes in William St. and Mary St., as well as St. Patrick's Hall in Thomas St. and the parochial house had been attacked during the disturbances.

A number of Nationalists appeared in court as a result of disturbances which had taken place when an Orange parade passed through Obins Street in July 1903.

An Orange parade through Obins Street on Easter Monday 1905 resulted in a Catholic man being shot dead. Patrick Faloon, a 36 year old father of four was standing alone in Woodhouse Street when Thomas Cordner, a Protestant factory worker, produced a revolver and fired at him. Faloon ran for the cover of nearby John Street but was shot in the back and died in his Curran Street home shortly afterwards. Two RIC men grabbed Cordner as he was about to fire a third shot at Faloon. As Cordner was being led to the Barracks a crowd of Orangemen attempted to rescue him. A fierce riot then ensued between the RIC and several hundred Orangemen. That evening police blocked the entrance to Obins Street, forcing a second Orange parade away from the area.

During 1906, 1907 and 1908, a number of people appeared in court on a variety of offenses arising out of incidents during Orange parades through Obins Street. The charges included riotous conduct, interfering with the Orange parade, obstruction and disorderly conduct. 1908 also saw more questions concerning Portadown asked in the House of Commons. Mr. P. O'Brien asked the Chief Secretary why no police were present to prevent trouble when an Orange Arch was erected in William Street, close to the local Catholic Church.

Questions in the House of Commons concerning the activities of the Orange Order in Portadown were becoming almost as frequent as their parades through Obins Street. In 1909, Mr. Joe Devlin, the M.P. for West Belfast, asked the Chief Secretary if he was aware that every year the Orange Order marched, with police protection, through an exclusively Catholic part of Portadown - even though there was an alternative route open to them - and questioned him on whether or not he was aware that, on the 13th July, they had paraded yet again, with the indulgence of the police, in a provocative manner through Obins Street, cursing the Pope, and playing party tunes. He said that a number of people had been injured in scuffles and shots were fired by the Orangemen while passing through the area. Referring to the arch in William Street, Mr. Devlin said that, to the annoyance of the Catholic residents of the street, Orangemen had been permitted to erect an arch only a few yards away from the Catholic Church, to parade playing party tunes, and to act in an most offensive manner opposite the Church.

The West Belfast MP claimed that "a perfect reign of terror had been established in Portadown against the Roman Catholics in the town" because of the biased police force. Devlin called for a searching inquiry to be held into police conduct and the behaviour of the Orangemen in William St. and Obins St. in July. The Chief Secretary, Mr. Birrell, said he had not sufficient information to give a detailed reply to Mr.Devlin's questions.

The Orange Order, therefore, had its origins in, and was formally established as a result of, the bitter sectarian clashes which erupted in County Armagh at the end of the 18th century. Far from becoming an organization which sought to bring an end to those sectarian divisions by positively seeking to implement the principle of 'civil and religious liberty' for all, the Order merely perpetuated and accentuated those divisions.

For over 100 years, the Order, through its demonstrations and the influence it wielded by the support of the gentry, has created animosity and strife; failed to abide by the laws of the land; and expressed its contempt for the authority of the British Parliament and Crown. That it successfully and repeatedly done so, led to a situation where the authorities were forced to capitulate and to accede to its demands, and where the legitimate rights of the Catholic community were no longer properly or effectively safeguarded by the state.

In 1913, the annual general meeting of Portadown Unionist Club was told by the secretary, J. A. Wilson, that 12 divisions of the Ulster Volunteer Force had been armed with rifles. Wilson thanked the Orange Order for allowing their halls to be used for drilling and training purposes. The triumvirate of Unionism, Orangeism and paramilitarism again led to another British government being forced to capitulate in the face of threats and undemocratic demands. This time the issue was that of Home Rule and through it, the possible loss of prestige and power which the Orange/Unionist leadership had enjoyed for so long.

1917 again saw disturbances over the Orange marches with a number of Catholics being arrested when the parades passed through Obins Street. An interesting comment was made at the county demonstration in Drumgor when the Rev. Dr. O'Loughlin, Dean of Dromore, expressed his disappointment at the hesitancy of the loyal brethren to volunteer for service in the war in Europe.

Few reports are available on the marches during the next decade and a half. In July 1923, an editorial in the Irish News in response to continuing sectarian violence stated,

"The vicious circle will never be broken while the Orange Institution exists to carry on the despicable game of "civil and religious liberty" as an easy means of bulldozing the workers by appealing to artificial and facetious feelings of antagonism to those who differ from them in their religious and political views."

With the partition of Ireland and the establishment of a Unionist Government in the North, the role and power of the Orange Order had reached its zenith. Not only had the Order members in the actual Government, its influence now spread through all walks of life, backed up by a fully armed militia in the form of the RUC and the notorious "B" Specials, the members of which were almost exclusively Orangemen.

These forces had at their disposal one of the most draconian pieces of legislation ever designed - the Special Powers Act. This allowed for people to be arrested and detained without reason or without little or no possibility of legal redress; to ban public meetings, censor newspapers and proscribe political parties and political activities. In was frequently used in a wholly partisan manner against the Catholic/ Nationalist population of the Six Counties to effectively suppress any dissent or opposition from that quarter towards the Orange and Unionist statelet.

David Rock, a leading member of both the Orange and Black Institutions, was the District Commandant of the "B" Specials in the years after partition. He is described in the official history of Portadown Orangeism as a man whose influence was felt not only in Portadown but throughout County Armagh.

A series of sectarian murders of Catholics carried out in County Armagh and elsewhere during the 1920's have been widely attributed to members of the "B" Specials.

R. J. Hewitt, appointed Sub-Divisional Commander of the "B" Specials in Portadown in 1943, was another leading Orangeman.

1931 saw major street disturbances in Portadown again. On Saturday 15th August a loyalist mob waited for the return of two buses bringing local Nationalists back from an A.O.H. demonstration in Armagh City. The loyalists followed the buses to Obins Street where local people had assembled awaiting their return. Only a few police were on hand, and a riot ensued with the loyalists being forced away from Obins St. by the Nationalists. The loyalist crowd then went on the rampage around the town, attacking and destroying Catholic-owned property and severely beating at least three Catholics. Such was the extent of the rioting that the local magistrates considered introducing a curfew. For the following week all pubs were closed at 7.00 pm, people ordered off the streets at dusk, and no crowds were permitted to congregate. There were no more major incidents but, according to some people who can vividly recall that period, the local Catholic population felt as if they were in a state of siege for some considerable time afterwards.

In 1932 thousands of Catholics from throughout the Six Counties travelled by train to Dublin for the International Eucharistic Congress. Portadown was the central rail junction for the North and, as all trains going to Dublin had to pass through the town, it was here that the principles of "civil and religious Liberty for all" were demonstrated with full vigour. The railway embankments were lined with hundreds of fanatical civil and religious libertarians and, as the special trains approached Portadown from Dublin on Sunday June 26 and the early hours of Monday June 27, they were met with showers of stones, bricks, bottles and other missiles. Many men, women and children were injured and the blatantly sectarian attacks provoked anger and outrage throughout Ireland and Britain. As well as the trains, Obins Street and Catholic homes in other parts of the town also came under attack.

Numerous incidents, mainly of a minor nature, took place during the July parades in 1933 and 1934.

Catholic children returning from what was known locally as "the Canon's trip", a day's excursion organised by the local parish priest were forced to run a gauntlet of abuse on July 16th 1935 as hundreds of Orange supporters assembled to harangue and abuse them. A number of women who had gathered at the railway station to meet the children on their return from the trip were assaulted. The actions of the loyalists and the total indifference of the RUC created much resentment among the Catholic population of the town.

That resentment, already fuelled by the Orange marches through Obins Street a few days beforehand, boiled over the following day into a full scale riot which was sparked off when 3 RUC men were seen to assault a man at the corner of Park Road and Obins Street. When several baton charges failed to disperse the Nationalist crowd, the RUC, under the command of a County Inspector Dudgeon, then opened fire. 56 year old Hugh Faloon, who was standing at the window of his upstairs bedroom of his home in Obins Street was fatally wounded and died two days later. The volleys of shots dispersed the crowd and many fled into their homes, where they were followed by the RUC riot squads, beaten and then arrested.

Orangemen were stoned while passing through Obins Street on July 12th 1937. Some Orangemen were reported to have been injured, but no other incidents are said to have taken place.

During the Second World War, no Orange Marches took place in the Six Counties and, for the first time since the establishment of the Orange Order, Portadown experienced a decade relatively free from civil and sectarian strife.

Eight Catholics were prosecuted as a result of what appeared to be a peaceful protest during an Orange parade in Obins Street on July 13 1950. J. and M. Creaney, P. Shevlin, M. Hughes, R. O'Connor, M. Grimley, J. Creaney and T. Kelly were defended by Mr. H. McParland (instructed by Senator J. G. Lennon, Armagh).

Mr. McParland stressed that the defendants had merely attempted to walk across the street where they lived while an Orange Parade was passing. He pointed out that there was an alternative route for the parade and if the alternative route was taken by the marchers it would prevent trouble in the future. Mr. Mc Parland said that " His Worship might even intimate that was a reasonable suggestion on the part of the defendants .... In a number of other towns the police diplomatically arranged that the processions do not go through certain areas. "

Mr. McParland said that the route through Obins Street was an abnormal one and there was a suggestion of "trailing of coats" in the use of this route.

Head Constable Stansfield, when being questioned by Mr. Mc Parland, admitted that at least one of the bands was playing party tunes and that the daughter of one of the defendants had been assaulted by Orangemen in the parade. When, under further cross examination, the Head Constable admitted that the local Nationalist accordion band was confined to parading in Obins Street, defence counsel asked him did he not think that, in the interests of peace, the Orangemen should be confined to their own areas, Stansfield replied, "It is not given to me to think ... I am here to obey orders!"

Four of the defendants were found guilty and fined. Despite Stansfield's admission in court regarding the assault, no Orangemen were prosecuted.

Head Constable Stansfield was a central figure in another court case in 1954 which arose out of an incident when a car was deliberately driven through a Nationalist procession headed by St. Patrick's Band in Obins Street. A young woman was charged with "indecent conduct". Stansfield said that he went to break up a crowd of people who were hammering on the car when the young woman ran towards him. "I put up my clenched fist with the gloves in it and she ran her face right into my knuckle", he stated.

Defence counsel suggested that the police hadn't made adequate traffic arrangements, and pointed out that the Nationalist band seemed to have a most unfortunate history of similar incidents - a lorry drove through it in 1948 seriously injuring a number of band members and supporters; on another occasion a bus drove through it; and in August 1952 a motorcycle crashed into it. (Quite remarkable given that the band was always confined by the RUC to parading along a 600 yard long stretch of one street!)

Nevertheless the law took its course and the young woman was convicted on an amended charge of disorderly behaviour - assaulting a policeman's fist with her face would not have looked right on a charge sheet.

During the 1950's and 1960's, local residents generally ignored the Orange Marches through the Nationalist areas of the town at the request of the local Catholic clergy. Some local people continued to attempt to protest at these annual provocative displays, but no major incidents occurred.

The 1960's also saw the commencement of a major housing redevelopment programme in the town. Much of the older housing stock, particularly in Curran St., John St., Mary St., River Lane, etc., was demolished and the new housing estates of Garvaghy Park, Churchill Park and Ballyoran Park were built along the Garvaghy Road. With the advent of "the Troubles" the sectarian divide in housing became even more pronounced. This led to a situation along the Garvaghy Road which even the Orange Order admits to in "The Orange Citadel", an official history of Portadown Orangeism.

"Where once Orangemen had walked along the Garvaghy Road to the gaze of no-one, they now walked past housing estates which were almost exclusively Roman Catholic and who resented the parade."

Indeed, that same history also reveals that "during the 1970's and early 1980's repeated attempts were made by the Roman Catholics of Obins Street and Garvaghy Road to prevent Orange parades from walking through these districts".

With the commencement of the Civil Rights Campaign in the late Sixties, attention again began to focus locally on the Orange marches. July 14th 1969 saw a crowd of 400 - 500 members of the Black Preceptory and their supporters lay siege to a public house in Woodhouse Street, where a young man from the Obins Street area was being held by the RUC. Fighting had broken out while the Black parade was going through Obins Street and the RUC had bundled the young man into the pub to save him from the mob. He was later charged with assaulting one of his attackers.

As the Civil Rights campaign continued, an attempt by the People's Democracy to hold a meeting in Portadown town centre in March 1970 led to a violent Loyalist reaction. Hundreds of Loyalists gathered to oppose and disrupt the meeting, despite the presence of a large number of RUC and British Army personnel.

Many Nationalists fled from Portadown in advance of the Drumcree and other Orange parades in July 1971. The Drumcree parade through Obins Street on Sunday July 4th saw a large number of the recently disbanded "B" Specials lead over 1,000 Orangemen through the area. The Nationalist areas were completely saturated by hundreds of RUC and British troops, in order to prevent any opposition to the marches.

All roads into Portadown were completely cut off by Loyalists and the Obins Street area was the subject of continuous assault by Loyalist mobs from Sunday March 26th until Wednesday 29th March 1972 after the suspension of the Stormont Government. In response, the extreme Loyalist grouping, the Ulster Vanguard Movement of which David Trimble was Deputy Leader, had called for a forty-eight hour strike. In the town centre, all known Catholic- owned businesses were wrecked and looted, and scores of Catholic families living in Protestant areas were intimidated and forced out of their homes.

The Portadown Resistance Committee, which had organised the defence of the town's Nationalist areas during the Loyalist attacks, made an appeal in April calling on the authorities to reroute the July parades and condemned those who issued hypocritical statements about community relations while ignoring the plight of the small Nationalist community which was in a constant state of siege.

At the start of July, the UDA set up "no-go" areas around the town. Within hours of these UDA controlled areas being established, a 47 year old Catholic disappeared. The tortured and mutilated body of Felix Hughes was found submerged in a drain leading to the River Bann four weeks later.

When further pleas for the rerouting of the Orange marches were ignored, local people began to erect barricades all along Obins Street on Saturday 8th July in an attempt to prevent the first of those marches taking place the following day.

On Sunday 9th, a massive force of British troops, including Paratroopers, moved into the area to clear the route for the Orangemen. Scores of CS gas canisters and baton rounds were fired at local people in order to quell opposition to the march. The RUC, who moved into the area behind the troops, smashed their way into homes along Obins Street, badly beating up the occupants.

Having gained control of the area, the RUC and British Army then compounded the sectarian nature of their vicious assault on the local Catholic community by permitting a large contingent of masked and uniformed members of the UDA and UVF to parade and drill in Obins Street. These hooded Loyalist terrorists then lined both sides of the street and saluted as several hundred Orangemen marched through the district on their way to Drumcree. The same contingent of Loyalist terrorists again accompanied the Orangemen on their return from Drumcree along the Garvaghy Road, where another massive British Army deployment effectively suppressed any opposition from the Nationalist residents.

The British Army and RUC actions were carried out at a time when a bipartisan ceasefire was in operation between the IRA and the British, and were classed by the Republican leadership as a severe breach of the truce agreement which eventually totally disintegrated in the Lenadoon area of Belfast later that evening.

Similar oppressive British Army and RUC presences also ensured no opposition to the Orange marches through the area on the July 12th and 13th. Within hours of the 12th parade taking place, a Catholic pub owner Jack McCabe and one of his customers, William Cochrane, were shot dead by an off-duty RUC man in Portadown town centre. A Protestant youth, Paul Beattie, was also shot dead that morning on the Garvaghy Road.

The SDLP presented a dossier detailing the intimidation of Catholic families in Portadown to the British Secretary of State at the beginning of 1973 and, at the end of June, Seamus Mallon again called for the rerouting of Orange Parades away from the Nationalist areas of the town. Obins Street and the Garvaghy Road were swamped by British Army and RUC personnel in order to allow the Oranges marches to go ahead against the wishes of the residents of the area.

An extract from an article in the Sunday Observer newspaper which appeared in July 1974 shows an outsiders view of the Orange parades in Portadown that year,

"This column heads - it's not possible - down through the underpass and into the Catholic ghetto. But it is possible. Superintendent Rogers, head of the Portadown police, gave his permission. The British Army..... cover the parade as it goes, drumming and yelling, to show the Papists who's master in town."

The Portadown News, a local newspaper which was Unionist in orientation, carried another description of what an Orange parade to Drumcree entailed for the town's Catholic population in July 1975,

" A visitor to the town could have been excused if he had been under the impression that a fair proportion of the British Army stationed in Ulster had been drafted into the town, and an equally large proportion of strength of the Royal Ulster Constabulary.
"Right from the moment the procession of 1,000 men and three bands entered Woodhouse Street, there was an atmosphere of a town under siege. Soldiers armed with rifles, and officers equipped with high powered binoculars thronged the railway bridge. Scores of policemen flanked the entrance to the station itself....
"Inside Obins Street, it was a case of troops and police all the way to Corcrain with Saracens (armoured personnel carriers) and land-rovers in profusion and soldiers also prowling around with fierce-looking Alsatian dogs. As well as this, red-capped military policemen, green-clad Women's Army, and of course Women's RUC were also to the fore, not to mention scores of plain clothes policemen and soldiers. All the time a helicopter whirred overhead, swooping down at times to survey the scene.
"... Security measures from the top of Garvaghy Park to Parkmount were just as stringent as those on the outward parade. Saracens and soldiers crowded the grassy slopes of the Ballyoran Park estate, and the entrance to Garvaghy Park. It was the same at Churchill Park where scores of police watched the perimeter and troops were on patrol in the alleyways".

All this for a "church parade" which the Orange Order, even today, maintains has never caused controversy!

Given such extreme levels of saturation of the Nationalist areas of Obins Street and the Garvaghy Road by the British Army and the RUC, any protests against the unwelcome Orange Marches were effectively silenced. It should also be stressed that what amounted to the imposition of martial law and curfew within these areas lasted for up to a full week at a time, and not just for the length of time it took a parade to pass through.

Stranger still, given this high level military operation every year to negate Nationalist protest, was the apparent ease with which two off-duty members of the UDR were able to drive into Obins Street, only hours before the 12th July parade went through the area in 1977. Both men fired their legally-held, UDR issue weapons into a number of houses along the street and then escaped. They were only apprehended later when the car in which they travelling crashed into a British Army Saracen. At their subsequent trial, the Officer Commanding of the local UDR Battalion based at Mahon Barracks in Portadown told the court that both men were outstanding and exemplary soldiers whom he would be proud to have back in the Regiment.

For the next few years, the "security presence" aimed at preventing any protests against the parades was maintained during July. This presence in turn led to minor outbreaks of rioting between local Nationalist youths and RUC/British Army, usually on the eve of a march.

Barricades were erected, plastic baton rounds and at least five shots were fired during serious clashes between Nationalists and the RUC on July 13th 1981. The rioting, which lasted for several hours, broke out after the Orange Order had paraded through Obins Street four times that day. A number of young men were subsequently arrested and charged by the RUC.

At least 100 local residents took part in a peaceful protest against the marches the following day, July 14, when an estimated 1,500 members of the Royal Black Preceptories marched through Obins Street. A solid wall of RUC men lined the footpath along Parkside Flats where the protest was held.

Flag waving loyalists were allowed to congregate at the Railway Bridge entrance to the Nationalist area and hurl threats and abuse at local people. At the trial of those arrested for the July 13th riots, a solicitor defending the young men said that what had happened in Obins Street was the inevitable consequence of allowing Orange parades to take place there.

The Resident Magistrate, Mrs. Sarah Creanor, said that she sympathised with the defence argument that Orange parades were an unnecessary provocation, and agreed that these parades should not be allowed into the area.

Protests against the marches in Obins Street and the Garvaghy Road continued. Despite the presence of the RUC and British troops in 1983, Orange marchers broke ranks in Obins Street and attacked local people at the bottom of Obins Drive. Several local residents had to receive medical attention after being assaulted by the marchers who used ceremonial swords and pikes to carry out the assaults. A serving member of the UDR was identified by locals as being the ringleader of the attack. Claims were afterwards made that there had been obvious collusion between the RUC and the Orange assailants.

On the 17th March 1985, the local Nationalist St. Patrick's accordion band had intended to hold a parade from Obins Street to the Garvaghy Road. Despite their opposition to this parade in previous years, the RUC to the surprise of many locals gave the band permission for the St. Patrick's Day parade including that portion of the route along Park Road.

However, Loyalists led by several Unionist councillors, including the then Mayor of Craigavon, Arnold Hatch, and Cllr Gladys McCullough, threatened to hold a counter-demonstration along the route of the parade. On Sunday morning, 17th March, a crowd of flag waving Loyalists gathered in the Park Road area with Unionist members of the Borough Council, supposedly to hold a "prayer meeting". As the band left Obins Street a large force of RUC personnel immediately moved in to block its' path and senior RUC officers told the organisers that the parade could not proceed as previously agreed. Attempting to take an alternative route, the band was again blocked by the RUC. The band then left to go to a major St. Patrick's Day celebration in County Tyrone by bus.

That evening, on its return from Tyrone the band attempted to parade again along the route agreed with the RUC several weeks beforehand. There was no Loyalist protest that evening. In response the RUC attacked the band members and its' followers, at one stage driving their armoured landrovers through the ranks of the band (which included young children) and onlookers in a deliberate attempt to injure them and force them of the streets.

The reaction of Nationalists was one of outrage and anger. The RUC were shown to be using extreme force to defend the right of the Loyal Orders to parade along very contentious routes while it used force to prevent Nationalists parading on what was a natural and only slightly contentious route. The result of St. Patrick's Day was to galvanise Nationalist opposition to the July Parades. Residents of Obins St. and the Garvaghy Road disrupted a meeting of Craigavon Borough Council in protest at the action of the Mayor and other Unionist councillors. Nationalist politicians, from North and South of the border, made their opposition to the July parades known to the RUC and the British Secretary of State, Douglas Hurd.

As July approached, it was clear that the Nationalist community was determined to see an end to these annual triumphalist rituals in Obins Street and the Garvaghy Road.

On July 5th, it was announced that the 12th and 13th parades through the Nationalist district would be rerouted, but the Drumcree parade would be permitted to continue along Obins Street and the Garvaghy Road on July 7th. Local Nationalist residents held a meeting on the 6th at which they reiterated their demand for the rerouting of all the parades, and announced their intention to hold a peaceful demonstration in Obins Street.

On Sunday 7th, at around 9.30 am residents attempted to hold a peaceful sit- down protest in Obins St. in a last minute effort to halt the parade. As the media looked on, "the RUC waded into the protesters, batoning them without provocation" was how one foreign journalist described the scene. A number were arrested and almost twenty people seriously injured by the RUC, including one man who was beaten unconscious and then dragged along the street. Hand to hand fighting then commenced but, within 10 minutes, hundreds of RUC men in full riot gear had dispersed the protest and cleared the way for the 2,000 Orangemen, led by Unionist M.P.s, Harold McCusker and Rev. Martin Smyth. Among the marchers was the Belfast politician, George Seawright, who openly taunted and gestured at local people in a blatant sectarian manner.

On the return along Garvaghy Road, hundreds of RUC men in riot gear, backed up by troops, sealed off the entire length of roadway, refusing access to any but the Orangemen. Sinn Fein and SDLP representatives, as well as several local Catholic priests, who witnessed the RUC's assault on local people in Obins Street spoke of people's anger and frustration, and again demanded that all such parades be rerouted.

Among those who came to the town to witness the plight of the beleaguered Nationalist community was Mrs. Eunice Schriver, a sister of the assassinated American President, John F. Kennedy.

On the 12th and 13th, Orangemen and their supporters rioted in the town centre for several hours after those parades were rerouted.

On Easter Sunday, 1986 a ban was announced on an Apprentice Boys March due to take place the following day. From around 9.00 pm. on Sunday, hundreds of British troops and RUC men saturated the Garvaghy Road, apparently to enforce the ban. At 11.00 pm, cars with loudspeakers toured the town calling on Loyalists to assemble in the town centre in order to break the ban. Shortly before midnight, the British Army and RUC presence was withdrawn from the Garvaghy Road without explanation and returned to barracks, despite the fact that thousands of Loyalists were gathered in the town centre. Over an hour later, approximately 3-4,000 Loyalists, led by Unionist politicians, including Ian Paisley, began to march along the Garvaghy Road.

Eye-witnesses stated that many of the marchers, who included known members of the RUC and UDR, openly carried firearms. Several RUC landrovers also accompanied the illegal march. As the marchers commenced to attack and wreck Nationalist homes along the road, many local people attempted to defend their homes and families against the Loyalist invasion. The RUC made no effort to prevent the attacks, turning instead upon the Nationalists. Intense fighting broke out between local residents and the RUC, which lasted for several hours, and barricades were erected to prevent the RUC/Loyalists from re-entering the area.

Many people, including local clergy and leading Nationalist representatives, asked how such a march could take place given the large security presence in the area earlier. In a statement issued in the aftermath of that Ku Klux Klan-like march during the hours of darkness, local Catholic clergy said,

"The basic question raised by last night's display is who controls Portadown - local bully boys or a professional, impartial force."

Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams said the fact that no action had been taken to prevent the illegal march demonstrated "more evidence of the untrustworthiness of the RUC."

The SDLP's Seamus Mallon asked searchingly if it was a case of the Chief Constable or "sections within the RUC who are making the ultimate decisions?" Indeed, it was widely believed at the time that the RUC in Portadown had mutinied and had refused to enforce the ban, or to prevent the illegal march taking place. No Loyalists were ever prosecuted for participating in the illegal parade or the attacks upon Catholic homes.

Later, on Monday Loyalists went on the rampage in the town centre looting and wrecking shops and businesses, forcing the RUC to disperse them with plastic baton rounds. A Loyalist youth from Lurgan, Keith White, was fatally wounded by a baton round and died later in hospital.

In the run-up to the July parades, the Parade Action Committee and the Ulster Clubs headed by leading Portadown Orangeman, Alan Wright, threatened major disruption if the Orange parades were prevented from going through Obins Street and Garvaghy Road.

Alan Wright, along with the DUP's Peter Robinson, and Markethill man, Noel Little, (later to be arrested in Paris for offenses linked with alleged loyalist/ South African gunrunning activities) were soon to lead a parade of the Ulster Resistance movement through Portadown. Ulster Resistance was yet another shadowy loyalist paramilitary grouping. The activities of the Parades Action Committee and the Ulster Clubs led to a concerted campaign of intimidation and terror throughout June. Catholic homes and Church owned property came under constant attack. Shots were fired at local people from a car travelling along the Garvaghy Road. An Ulster Clubs' parade on June 16 resulted in several Catholic owned shops being wrecked and St. Patrick's Hall, a Catholic social club in Thomas St. was burned to the ground by the marchers. The Fire Brigade was prevented from going near the blaze for over half an hour and the RUC made no attempt to intervene. On the afternoon of Tuesday 16th, the town centre and many roads leading into the town were blocked by hijacked vehicles in a show of loyalist strength, and all shops were forced to close. Two further midnight marches, organised by the Ulster Clubs and the Parade Action Committee took place in the town on Thursday 19th and Tuesday 24th June. Throughout this whole period the RUC stood back as the local Catholic community was placed under a state of constant siege.

An Irish News editorial of Saturday July 5th condemned the planned Orange marches through the nationalist areas of Portadown, stating,

"It is the simple and stark fact that, once again, members of the Nationalist community of Portadown are to be treated as second class citizens in their own town.....
"It is difficult for those fortunate enough to live in more sophisticated communities to understand and appreciate the deep sense of fear, outrage and humiliation that marks these annual incursions into the little streets of this little town....
"It is no longer relevant to speak of traditional routes and traditional marches as if tradition validated terrorism and intimidation. There is no longer any reason for remaining fixed in a frozen bigotry that prides itself on ignoring change in demographic and geographic realities."

On Sunday 6th July, a massive concentration of RUC and British Army were deployed in Obins Street and the Garvaghy Road to suppress Nationalist protests against the Orange march to Drumcree. 3,000 troops and 1,000 extra RUC personnel had been drafted into the town. Prominent civil liberties activists from Ireland and abroad had been invited to Portadown by the local Sinn Fein councillor, Brian McCann. A protest by Nationalists in Obins Street was the subject of an RUC banning order and prevented from even taking place. Over 300 people had tried to assemble at Parkside flats in Obins Street for the protest only to be faced with the total saturation of the district by the RUC. Another protest on the Garvaghy Road by the People Against Injustice Group was forcibly broken up to make way for the Orangemen. The Portadown Times described clashes between the RUC and local Garvaghy residents as "a pitched battle". The Irish News reported how St. John's Catholic Church was attacked by Orangemen and their supporters while Mass was in progress and a Catholic priest assaulted at the bottom end of Obins St. Father Patrick Thornton received cuts and a swollen eye.

Two of the North's main newspapers were quite similar in their editorial comments regarding the Orange marches through Catholic areas of Portadown:

The Belfast Telegraph - "A better route must be found that will give loyalists the opportunity to parade their colours where they are welcome".
The Irish News - "In the long term, the best contribution police can make in the marching season is to make clear that, in future, parades will be confined to areas where they are not calculated to cause offence."

Again the 12th and 13th Orange and Black parades through the area were the subject of rerouting of rerouting orders away from Obins Street.

It was at this time the British Government and the RUC reached one of the most inexplicable decisions ever taken surrounding Orange marches in the town. Having decided that such marches would no longer be allowed to proceed through Obins Street, many Nationalists believed the authorities would also take the next logical step - reroute the Orangemen away from the Garvaghy Road.

However, logic would seem to have been in short supply. Far from rerouting the contentious Garvaghy Road march, the Orange Order was now told by the RUC that they could now have a second march along this route on July 12th.

Alan Wright described the decision as a "victory" and admitted that he was "overjoyed". John Hume denounced the Garvaghy march as "a boost for the bully boys and cudgel carriers,"

This incensed Nationalists. What the RUC were doing was making a deal with the Orange Order that, if they accepted the rerouting of all marches away from Obins St., the RUC would permit the Order to have a second, and completely new, march along the Garvaghy Road, where the bulk of the town's Catholic Community lived.

On Friday 11th July, hundreds of loyalists attempted to force their way into Obins Avenue and Obins Drive after they were incited to do so following a speech by the extremist politician, George Seawright at an Eleventh Night bonfire in nearby Edgarstown. An English reporter described the scene in Obins Drive,
"Flames and smoke billow in the air. Petrol bombs, flares and bricks come flying over the fence hitting the roofs of pensioners houses. Many residents are out on the street."

This violent onslaught on the area, during which at least two blast bombs were also thrown, lasted for over an hour before the RUC arrived on the scene. In predictable fashion, the RUC attacked local residents and provoked a riot with Nationalists from the Garvaghy Road who were trying to make their way into Obins Street to assist locals defending their homes from the loyalist mobs.

On the 12th morning, Nationalists on the Garvaghy Road were once more assaulted and beaten by baton wielding RUC men, as the Orangemen held their first ever Twelfth parade along the road.

Nevertheless, even this underhand deal made between the RUC and the Orange Order, against the wishes of the local community and without their consultation, did not satisfy the more extreme elements within the Orange and Black Institutions. Besashed extremists and their supporters went on the rampage in the town centre.

During the next twelve months nationalists redoubled their rerouting campaign. It was now clear, even to the RUC, that Orange marches through Obins St. were completely out of the question, given the amount of international publicity the issue was beginning to generate.

In July 1987, it was announced that the Drumcree parade would be completely rerouted from Obins St. Nationalist protest was then focused solely on the Garvaghy Road and hundreds of local people gathered there from early on Sunday morning to take part in a sit-down protest against the Drumcree parade. The Orange parade did not materialise. The staunch upholders of "tradition" decided to break with tradition and, instead of marching to Drumcree, held a religious meeting at Corcrain Orange Hall as a protest at having to take the alternative route away from Obins Street. This clearly demonstrated to many people that the Orange Order could and would break with its hitherto sacrosanct "traditional routes", and they argued that since the Orange Order had voluntarily given up the Garvaghy Road once they could do so again.

Nevertheless, the 12th July morning parade went ahead as usual. As many people held the mistaken opinion that it too would not be taking place on account of the previous Sunday's non-event, the numbers who turned out to object were less than expected. A Women's Silent Protest was prevented from leaving Churchill Park to confront the marchers by the British Army. The RUC were particularly furious with the women protestors, insulting them and ripping away their placards. One of the women was hospitalised.

In June 1988 a planned parade from the Garvaghy Road by the Drumcree Faith and Justice Group into the town centre to highlight the inequality which surrounded the parades issue in Portadown was restricted to a 400 yard stretch of the Garvaghy Road by the RUC. The organisers had told the RUC that only 30 people would take part and that the only symbol would be a banner with a green hand and an orange hand interlinked. The Drumcree Faith and Justice Group had a Christian motivation and commitment to using exclusively peaceful means. They wrote to all the relevant authorities every year expressing their belief that the vast majority of residents were opposed to Orange parades on the Garvaghy Road and that the opposition was just and right on moral and religious grounds. The Orange Order in Portadown never acknowledged the receipt of a letter in the 8 years of their campaign.

In July the Drumcree Faith and Justice Group organised a sit-down protest on the road with only limited numbers taking part. The RUC removed the protesters forcefully. The parade consisted of approximately 500 Orangemen and 4 bands, two Church bands and two "kick the pope" or "loyalist" bands. Crowds of Nationalist residents at Ballyoran, Garvaghy and Churchill were hemmed in by over 1,000 members of the British Army and RUC. The road was lined with security vehicles. As one newspaper report recorded afterwards, "only a massive show of strength from the police and the army ensured the Drumcree parade passed off without major incident."

This was a pattern to be repeated for 5 years. Parades were preceded by nights of riots. Peaceful protests (cross-community tea party, loud music and limited sit down protests) were suppressed by very heavy security presence. By 1991, the Drumcree Faith and Justice Group were becoming aware of criticism that their form of protest was becoming predictable and totally ineffective. It was taking the focus away from the residents opposition to the actual marches.

During the Drumcree parade in 1992, led by David Trimble MP and consisting of 1,200 Orangemen and four bands, marchers and bandsmen broke ranks on the Garvaghy Road and attacked several local people as well as a press photographer in full view of the RUC. The attack incensed Nationalists hemmed in behind RUC lines and clashes broke out between the RUC and locals at Ballyoran Park and also at Churchill Park/Woodside.

A survey carried out in the Garvaghy Road area by the Drumcree Faith and Justice Group in 1993 showed that 95% of those questioned were opposed to Orange marches along that road. For the first time, there was no organised protest against the parades. There was, however, an increase in rioting in the area on the nights before the marches as young people, frustrated at the seemingly ineffectiveness of previous protests, vented their anger on the police and property. The disused Mayfair factory was burned during this riot. In 1994 the DFJ failed to hold a protest. Opposition to the parade was only expressed by riots during two previous nights.

Through this entire period which included the establishment of the Six County State, the 60 years of Stormont with its own laws and police force, the Orange Order enjoyed an unparalleled freedom to demonstrate; a freedom not enjoyed by the minority community. The role of the RUC in securing the Order's ability to regularly parade through communities where such a presence was regarded as offensive, questioned the impartiality of that force. Far from being the 'piggy in the middle' the RUC was seen to be openly acting on behalf of only one community. This in turn helped to reinforce the contempt which the Orange Order showed for any group which sought to question its traditional 'rights', a contempt which was highlighted by the Order's refusal to even acknowledge receipt of letters from the Drumcree Faith and Justice group during it's eight year campaign on this issue. It is against this background of previously enjoyed privileges, which were protected by the state, coupled with this contempt that has led to the situation where Catholic/Nationalists justly demand their rights.
The need to secure consent and agreement, and to respect the legitimate rights of the minority are completely ignored by the Loyal Orders.

By May 1995, local community activists were attempting to harness the resentment and anger which the Orange parades created into a constructive and peaceful campaign. This led to the formation of the Garvaghy Road Residents Group, which was to act as an umbrella group of tenants associations in the various housing estates, political parties and Drumcree and Justice Group. At the inaugural public meeting to select a committee for the group, held on May 10 in Drumcree Community Centre, representatives of the Lower Ormeau Concerned Community from Belfast addressed those present.

The GRRG immediately set about its task which it saw as threefold;

(a): to organise a community-based opposition to the provocative and sectarian marches by the Orange Order through the heart of the overwhelmingly Catholic/Nationalist Garvaghy Road area;
(b): to use whatever political influence available in order to have these marches rerouted;
(c): in the event of the marches not being rerouted, to organise peaceful community-based protests against the marches on Sunday July 9 and Tuesday July 12.

In pursuit of these aims, the GRRG requested meetings with the Orange Order and with the RUC. Over 1,200 signatures were gathered for a petition which called for the marches to be rerouted.

Despite several direct requests to the Order, and the use of intermediaries, no response was ever forthcoming from the Portadown Orange District.

Meetings with local RUC chiefs throughout May, June and the first week of July were unsatisfactory. It became quite apparent that the RUC did not have a consistent policy on the issue of parades, or on the interpretation of the existing Public Order legislation and its application. Indeed, the RUC made it clear that the matter was one for the Secretary of State. A request by the GRRG to have a direct meeting with the RUC Chief Constable met with refusal.

The Residents' Group also wrote to the Secretary of State, Patrick Mayhew, asking him to use the powers available to him to prevent any Orange marches taking place along the Garvaghy Road. The response came from an official of the Security Policy and Operations Branch of the NCO who wrote,

"Decisions on the routing of parades are an operational matter for the RUC."

This reply totally ignored the powers available to the Secretary of State under the Public Order legislation, and conveniently disregarded the precedents set by Douglas Hurd in banning Orange parades from Obins Street a decade earlier.

Having failed to receive any assurances that the marches would be rerouted, the GRRG filed the statutory seven days notice with the RUC of their intention to organise a protest march from the Garvaghy Road to Carleton Street Orange Hall on the morning of Sunday 9th July.

The RUC then asked for two meetings with the Group on Tuesday 4th and Friday 7th at which the RUC requested that the residents reconsider both the timing and manner of their protest. It was pointed out to the RUC that public meetings of residents had fully endorsed the protest and that the RUC had offered no legitimate reason why the protest could not go ahead as planned.

RUC officers removed all the local Nationalist symbols from the Garvaghy Road area on the Thursday night before the Drumcree Parade. Over two dozen Irish tricolours which had been flying from poles along the road for several months were removed. The act was viewed as a provocative action that undermined the work of community leaders to halt the riots that had become almost as traditional as the marching season.

A sinister development emerged that same week as the Mid-Ulster Brigade of the UVF issued a statement, published in two local newspapers, saying they would be "closely monitoring the controversial parades in the area."

This loyalist terror gang had been responsible for the murders of well over 100 Catholic men, women and children in the Mid-Ulster area since 1972. A leading Portadown loyalist figure, known locally as "King Rat", (the now desceased Billy Wright) was believed to have been implicated in many of these murders. The statement was seen as a deliberate attempt to intimidate and frighten Nationalists from participating in the protests against the Orange marches.

As the date of the Drumcree parade approached, it was becoming clear that many people recognised and supported the validity of the GRRG's stance. John Hume, the leader of the SDLP, and Gerry Adams, President of Sinn Fein, both publicly gave their support, as did other leading politicians. The Catholic Primate of All-Ireland, Cardinal Cathal Daly, also issued a message saying that he applauded the GRRG attempts to achieve a peaceful and permanent resolution of the parades issue in Portadown.

On Sunday morning, July 9, it became clear that the community's desire for a peaceful opposition to the Orange marches was being heeded. For the first time in over twenty years, there had been no rioting in the Nationalist areas on the night before a march.

At around 9.50 am., the residents' protest march made its' way from the junction of the Garvaghy and Ashgrove Roads towards the town centre. It was halted shortly after 10.00 am, several hundred yards further along the Garvaghy Road by the RUC, who had closed the roadway with armoured landrovers behind which were dozens of RUC personnel in riot gear. A notice was handed to the organisers of the protest informing them that they were banned from proceeding beyond the junction of Garvaghy Road and Castle Avenue at any time that day by the RUC Deputy Divisional Commander, Supt. James Blair. In front of the assembled media, Mr. Blair was asked by the residents' spokesperson if the same legislation would be used to prevent the Orange march from proceeding along the Garvaghy Road later that day. He refused to answer.

The protesters then made their way back to the junction of the Garvaghy and Ashgrove Roads where they then remained at both sides of the road. As time went by the numbers of those taking part in the residents protest increased. From midday onwards RUC vehicles approached the protesters, and senior RUC officers, including Assistant Chief Constable Hall, asked the organisers what their intentions were and if they intended to block the road. The RUC were told that depended on whether the Orange march would be allowed down the Garvaghy Road, or whether the RUC would attempt to restrict the movement of local people to their homes and streets. Just before 12.30, the protest organisers were asked by the RUC to inform residents that landrovers would be advancing towards them but would stop about 50 yards away. The organisers then called everyone together to inform them of what was about to happen, and not to panic. They informed them that they should all move back towards the footpaths again. Immediately afterwards, Chief Superintendent McCreesh told the organisers that the residents had broken the law by blocking the road and were liable to prosecution, even though McCreesh knew that the organisers were relaying ACC Hall's message. This was clearly a deliberate attempt by the RUC to artificially manufacture a public order situation. The response of the residents was unanimous - if they were going to be accused falsely of blocking the road, there was only one legitimate response, whereupon several hundred people moved out from the footpaths and promptly sat down on the roadway. RUC landrovers then took up position on either side of the sit-down protest and the residents anxiously awaited the next move, knowing as they did that the return parade from Drumcree would be due to commence shortly after 1.00 pm.

At Drumcree the RUC told the Orangemen their march along the Garvaghy Road would not be able to proceed as planned due to the Nationalist sit-down protest. The Portadown District Master then announced that the Orange Order would remain at Drumcree until such times as they could march the Garvaghy Road.

The situation remained that way for several hours. On the Garvaghy Road the protest had taken on a carnival-like appearance, with traditional musicians providing entertainment while local people contented themselves with snacks and sandwiches rather than leave the protest for the comfort of their own homes and their Sunday dinners. It was evident to all present that the protesters behaved with dignity and discipline. Those who know the area observed one very significant point: the protesters included most of the community activists. These were people who wanted a better future for all and invest their time and energy building this future.

At 4.45 pm, ACC Hall relayed a message to the Residents Group, via a Superintendent Blakely that the Orange march had been rerouted and would not be going back into town along the Garvaghy Road. Members of the GRRG then addressed the Nationalist protesters who by then numbered around 700. Urging them to support the next protest on July 12, the residents were then asked to disperse peacefully and not to go near any possible flashpoint areas.

Less than a mile away, the atmosphere was a complete contrast. Harold Gracey, the Portadown District Master, had issued a call for Orangemen across the North to show their solidarity by blocking their own towns and villages. As Gracey made this announcement, the notorious Portadown Loyalist, Billy Wright, was already organising a blockade in Charles Street close to many Catholic homes. The local Unionist M.P., David Trimble, also read out a statement which called for "all Orange brethren to muster at the church". Throughout the afternoon and evening, sporadic violence erupted at Drumcree as Orangemen and their supporters vented their anger, and attempted to break through towards the nearby Nationalist Ballyoran Park estate. The arrival of Ian Paisley brought the announcement of a massed rally of Orangemen to be held on Monday night.

In the meantime, Orangemen and their supporters seized control of all roads around Portadown and effectively put the town's Catholic/Nationalist community under siege, and prevented access to or exit from the Nationalist area. Catholic families living along Charles St. and the Dungannon Road were particularly isolated and vulnerable during the following days and nights. As thousands of Orangemen commenced illegal parades past their homes to and from Drumcree while the RUC looked on and did not interfere. The vulnerability of these Catholic families was graphically demonstrated when a Catholic family of four were burned out of their home in Corcrain that night.

By 10.00 pm, several thousand Orangemen and their supporters had assembled at Drumcree but when darkness fell only a few hundred remained and even less stayed during the night. Although the Orangemen numbered less than 150 during the night the RUC did not attempt to remove them.

On Monday it was clear that the Orange and Unionist leadership were not seeking a resolution of the issue. Instead they were gearing up for confrontation and were concentrating their energy in organising the massed rally planned for 7.30 pm that night, and organising protests throughout the Six Counties. Elsewhere Orangemen and their supporters, in response to Harold Gracey's call, were beginning to block roads across the North, and Larne Harbour was closed by Orangemen led by their local MP, Roy Beggs. Hundreds of holiday makers and lorry drivers were left stranded by the closure of the port which was estimated to have cost over £1,000,000 in lost revenue and damages. Similar protests took place in Belfast, Carrickfergus and other parts of the North.

The Secretary of State astounded many people that afternoon when he tried, Pontius Pilate-like, to wash his hands of the increasingly serious situation. When questioned outside Stormont about events in Portadown, Patrick Mayhem replied,

"It's not for me, I have no role in this at all. I'm certainly not going to act as an adjudicator or arbitrator or anything of that sort. That's quite unconstitutional". (BBC TV)

Given Mayhew's legal background, it is unbelievable that he did not know of the range of powers open to him under the current Public Order legislation which could well have helped prevent the whole situation from arising at all.

Mary Harney, TD, the leader of the Progressive Democrats in the Government of the Irish Republic, called on Unionist politicians to give "courageous and responsible leadership"

She said:

"Instead of aiding and abetting the unreasonable triumphalist and coat-trailing demands of Orangemen - to march through an area where they are not wanted - it is high time that Unionist politicians spelled out the new political realities of Northern Ireland for Orangemen." (Irish Independent)

An offer from the Garvaghy Road Residents Group seeking a meeting with the Orange Order in Portadown Town Hall that evening to discuss the Twelfth parade was rejected. Independent mediators were then asked to put the GRRG's proposals to the Order.

The massed rally which started at 8.30 pm and was attended by approximately 10,000 people, led to a major deterioration of the situation in Portadown. A series of speakers including several Unionist MP's addressed the rally. However violence erupted almost immediately following a speech by Ian Paisley when he urged his assembled audience to,

"Win this battle or all is lost,- it's a matter of life or death, freedom or slavery."

As the Irish News reported, "Minutes after those words were uttered, a frenzied mob of rioters began hurling stones, bottles or any other missiles available .... as hundreds of loyalists began streaming across the fields parallel with Drumcree Road."

Over 1,000 loyalists, many wearing Orange sashes and other regalia, broke through the RUC lines which offered only minimal resistance. Five members of an English Channel Four TV crew were the mob's first victims as the loyalists headed directly for nearby Catholic homes. At the same time, large crowds of Nationalists from Ballyoran and adjacent estates stood ready to defend their homes and families from the oncoming horde. The loyalists veered towards Ashley Close and Andre Heights launching a barrage of missiles at the houses and their terrified occupants before directing their attention towards the nearby St. John the Baptist Primary School. In Craigwell Avenue, beside which a Loyalist blockade had been in place from Sunday, almost all the Catholic families had no choice but to leave their homes after the RUC repositioned their landrovers and allowed loyalists access to the street. When confronted by residents of the street about this, the RUC officer in charge stated "my men are not prepared to protect the likes of you". (When questioned about the incident by a GRRG delegation the Chief Constable said they could not identify the officer involved). The residents of Craigwell Avenue. which is almost exclusively Catholic, had been subjected to over 24 hours of continuous intimidation by this time.

By 10.30 pm the general mood within the Nationalist community was reminiscent of 1969, with families genuinely afraid for their safety and preoccupied with the question of their safety. With the entire Nationalist area sealed off by Orangemen and their supporters, many wondered what terror the hours of darkness would bring. The Drumcree Centre was made available throughout the night for those who had left their homes.

At 12.30 am the mediators returned from their meeting with the Orangemen. It emerged that Ian Paisley and his son, along with David Trimble, were negotiating on behalf of the local Orangemen. It was also becoming clear from other sources that in order to end the riot at Drumcree, the RUC was also arranging a deal with Paisley and Trimble, which effectively excluded the residents, and which was going to allow a march to take place along the Garvaghy Road at 2.30 am.

The Garvaghy Road Residents Group told the mediators that they were not given a mandate to negotiate with politicians and asked that they act on GRRG's behalf mediating between the RUC, Portadown Orangemen and ourselves . The GRRG immediately prepared to organise another sit-down protest on the roadway to thwart the RUC/Unionist deal.

At around the same time reports were coming through to the GRRG meeting that a large crowd of loyalists. estimated to be between 800-1000 led by the figure known as "King Rat", had made their way from the town centre to Obins St./Park Road and the public park. Dozens more Catholic homes were now placed under threat, and open to attack at any time. RUC units which had been supposedly positioned in Woodhouse Street to pre-empt such a move had driven their vehicles into a car-park and let the loyalists pass unhindered.

Within an hour around 500 people had returned to the scene of Sunday's protest on the Garvaghy Road. Shortly before 3.00 am, a large force of RUC riot squads arrived to confront the Nationalist protesters. Under the glare of television spotlights, the RUC officer in charge was challenged to state why he intended to forcibly move peaceful Nationalists while those Orangemen who had caused mayhem around the town were still allowed the freedom to assemble at Drumcree and other points in Portadown. Having no answer for the question put to him by the residents spokesperson, and by the media, the RUC officer hastily withdrew and went into conference with several other senior officers. By 3.30 am the RUC riot squad had pulled back. Nevertheless, the area still remained tense.

Shortly after 5.00 am, negotiations recommenced directly between the GRRG and the RUC Divisional Commander Heuston and Superintendent Blair in the presence of the mediators. The mediators then went to the Orange Order. The two RUC Deputy Chief Constables, Ronnie Flanagan and Blair Wallace, took over negotiation for the RUC at 9.00 am. The outline of an negotiated settlement was emerging. During this part of the proceedings Flanagan responded positively to the mediators proposal that there would be no more parades on the Garvaghy Road without the consent of locals. The mediators informed the GRRG and many of the protesters of this statement.

As part of the final agreement, the independent mediators read out a statement to the media making public exactly what all parties had agreed to:

"Following difficult and protracted negotiations between representatives of the GRRG, officers of the RUC and representatives of the Portadown District of the Orange Order, an accommodation has been reached and operational police decisions have been made which we believe will bring this situation to a conclusion.
"This involves a form of procession along the Garvaghy Road by the Orange Order and symbolic peaceful protest marshalled to the footpath by the GRRG.
"It is now understood that tomorrow's parade will take an alternative route."

It was agreed that only local members of Portadown Orange District would parade without bands or banners. The protesters would move to the footpath on the approach of the Orangemen and allow them to pass. It was understood by all that no Orange march would take place on the Garvaghy Road on the Twelfth.

Nationalists recognised they had not achieved all they had hoped for. Nevertheless, they were willing to accept this fact and hope that a more permanent and satisfactory solution would result from their willingness to compromise. That hope was to be dashed much more quickly than anyone was to realise.

The agreed Orange march took place at 10.50 on Tuesday morning. However, as it passed by the Nationalist protesters, it was quite evident that the marchers included many Orangemen from other towns. Within minutes of the marchers leaving the Garvaghy Road, it soon emerged that the Orange and Unionist leadership were denying any agreement had been made. David Trimble, who along with Ian Paisley joined the marchers as they left the Garvaghy Road was the first to deny the existence of the agreement. Going one step further he triumphantly asserted,

"We're glad to be down our traditional route, as we expect to be again"

Speaking to a reporter from the Irish Times, Trimble asserted, "There was no compromise. We have come down our traditional route in normal fashion with our flags flying. "

The District Master also denied any compromise. Thousands of Orangemen and their supporters engaged in shameless displays of triumphalism from Shillington's Bridge right through the town as several bands joined in the march. In Carleton Street, Orangemen formed a guard of honour for Trimble and Paisley who then victoriously pranced, hands joined and held aloft, to the entrance of the Orange Hall.

Many political leaders and commentators condemned them for their actions, with the leader of the Alliance Party, John Alderdice, being particularly scathing of comments made by Ian Paisley.

In its editorial of July 12, The Irish News compared the willingness of the residents to compromise with,

"the triumphalism displayed by MP's David Trimble and Ian Paisley as they headed into Portadown to the familiar cries of 'No Surrender.'
"Mr. Trimble did his cause no good with a victory speech in which he danced over the feelings of his Garvaghy Road constituents who allowed the march to pass, and in which he threatened them with more of the same in the future."

The same day an Irish Times editorial slated:

"the way in which Mr. David Trimble MP greeted yesterday's compromise in Portadown. His face shining with boyish glee, he told the television cameras "We're glad to be down the traditional route, and we expect to be again". This would be pathetic cant from a schoolboy in a playground having stolen a few of the headmaster's apples. From a member of parliament, a university lecturer, a man who has ambition to lead, it was just one just one more example of the fatal attraction of the blind alley for a certain breed of unionist politician.
"Mr. Trimble knows as well as anyone that he is playing with fire..... Narrow political ambitions have ridden the wild horses of hatred and sectarianism to achieve their aims. Mr. Trimble knows better, but he chooses not to know."

On the 12th morning, District Master Harold Gracey announced that the Portadown lodges had decided not to march along the Garvaghy Road in order "not to cause any further hassle to their fellow citizens" - a frank if somewhat understated recognition of the reality of the situation. Nevertheless, Nationalists remained somewhat sceptical of this apparent overnight change of heart.

That scepticism proved well-founded when an Orange lodge, led by a band, approached the Garvaghy Road from the town centre and paraded around Woodside Green, a mixed but predominantly Catholic housing estate. Protestors then blocked the Garvaghy Road to prevent the Orangemen going any further. The Nationalists succeeded in turning the parade back towards the town, but serious questions were asked as to why the RUC had let the parade into the area in the first place.

Portadown Nationalists only asked a few simple questions - How could anyone expect them to trust any of these Orange and Unionist leaders again? Did the faith and trust which Nationalists had sought to build through accommodation mean so little that it was rewarded with denials and displays of sectarian triumphalism? The Orange order and the Unionist politicians were not interested in dialogue or accommodation.. Their behaviour after they got their march demonstrated this. This contrasted dramatically with the dignity, discipline and peaceful determination of the Garvaghy Residents. They well deserved the praise they received in the national and international press. They rightly expected to be treated with dignity and respect.

The behaviour of the Orange and Unionist leadership, coupled with the fact that the Catholic community had endured almost 48 hours of siege, terror and intimidation, enraged many local people. Any observer would realise that it would be extremely difficult for the Orange Order to win the consent of the residents of the Garvaghy Road area for some time to come.

To anyone who cared to notice in the aftermath of July 95, it was immediately obvious that a permanent solution to the issue of contentious and sectarian marches in Portadown and other similarly affected areas had to be found.

Even though the Nationalist community had been unnecessarily offended by the Orange Order and Unionist politicians they were the group that made the running in the autumn months. In an effort to prevent a repeat of the summers events, the Garvaghy Road Residents once more wrote to the Orange Order seeking a meeting around the beginning of September. Again no reply or acknowledgement was forthcoming from the Orange Order.

The Mediation Network was asked by the Residents to attempt to facilitate a meeting with the Orange Order in Portadown. Despite spending several months trying to arrange such a meeting, and spending long hours preparing the GRRC to meet the Orange Order, the Network came up against a brick wall of refusal from the Order.

Far from seeking to enter into a genuine dialogue with the Nationalist community, the Orange Order continued to revel in triumphalism after July. Medals were struck to commemorate the "Seige of Drumcree" and at a special ceremony in September, David Trimble, Ian Paisley, Harold Gracey, Jeffrey Donaldson and the Church of Ireland rector at Drumcree, Rev John Pickering, were awarded the first of these medals for their part in the "Seige." Referring to the misspelt medals, local people suggested that those who so vociferously demanded to walk the Queen's highway should at least have a grasp of the Queen's English.

September also saw David Trimble elected as leader of the Ulster Unionist Party. After his victory, Trimble was carried shoulder high from the building by two Portadown Orangemen, Alan Locke and Arnold Hatch. Both men were amongst the 12 unionist councillors on Craigavon Council who had been surcharged and barred from holding office in 1986 who were described by a High Court judge as having been "motivated by sectarian bias."

In the autumn, it was also decided that the committee should become known as the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition due to the fact the it included representatives of several groups based within the town's Catholic/Nationalist community; and also to reflect the widespread and varied support which it enjoyed.

Given the Orange Order's refusal to enter into dialogue with the Coalition, the residents then began to contact as many interested parties and individuals as possible to put forward their case for the rerouting of Orange parades away from the Garvaghy Road.

Meetings were held with leading members of the Alliance Party, Mo Mowlam of the British Labour Party and with Sinn Fein, amongst others.

David Trimble, the local Unionist Member of Parliament in whose constituency the Garvaghy Road lies and leader of the Unionist Party was contacted by the Residents. Three letters were sent to Trimble from November onwards which the Unionist leader completely ignored. In the first of those letters, sent at the end of November, the residents wrote,

"Our group, which broadly represents a substantial number of your constituents, would like to meet with you to discuss some way of resolving the whole issue of Orange parades along the Garvaghy Road. We feel that what happened last July demonstrates the need for discussion on this issue in order to prevent a repeat of this years crisis...
"As a group mandated by the community living in and around the Garvaghy Road, we feel there is a need for you to hear the viewpoint of this community and to clarify a number of misconceptions concerning the motivation and composition of our group, the extent of local support for our campaign, and our commitment to exclusively peaceful means and our willingness to enter into genuine dialogue."

When no reply was forthcoming, a second letter was sent on January 17 1996 which added that the residents felt there is a certain urgency about a meeting with the local Member of Parliament.

With still no response, a similar letter was sent the following month as well, but to no avail.

The Secretary of State was also asked at the same time to meet the residents. Sir Patrick Mayhew's willingness to address meetings of the Orange Order in Comber, County Down, and other places, was to be in stark contrast to the response sent by his office to the Residents Coalition. Far from wishing to address the fears or hear the viewpoint of Portadown's Catholic/ Nationalist community, Mayhew stated that, in his opinion, a meeting with the residents "would serve no useful purpose at this time."

Considering what had already occurred that July, and the genuine fears which the local Catholic community harboured for the following year, Mayhew's response could only be described as extremely irresponsible and offensive.

The RUC meanwhile had cautioned a number of people who had taken part in the peaceful protests against the Orange marches and had said that prosecutions were pending. The Residents Coalition issued a statement asking if all those who had taken part in the illegal parades and assemblies at Drumcree and other places had also been cautioned. It was pointed out by the Residents that Ian Paisley had made a speech which had caused over 1,000 Orangemen to riot, while David Trimble and Harold Gracey, as well as several other prominent Unionist/Orange leaders, had been encouraging people to assemble at Drumcree in defiance of the law. The Coalition stated that if the law was to be seen to be applied impartially, then Trimble, Paisley, Gracey and others should also be prosecuted. No such prosecutions of these leaders took place.

In January, a delegation of the Residents Coalition met with leading members of the Presbyterian Church at Church House in Belfast. This exchange of views with the Presbyterians, who included four former Moderators of the Church, was felt to have been very constructive.

In the same month a similar delegation of residents met the RUC Chief Constable, Sir Hugh Annesley, Deputy Chief Constable Blair Wallace, Assistant Chief Constable Fred Hall along with "J" Divisional Commander, Terence Heuston. The RUC chiefs were questioned on their apparent inability to police the situation in Portadown the previous July, and the failure to prevent thousands of Orangemen from outside the area from coming to Portadown. The Chief Constable was asked directly what action, if any, had been taken against the officer in charge at Craigwell Avenue on Monday July 10, when the RUC had refused to protect Catholic families living there. While Annesley replied that an investigation had been unable to identify the officer in question (who was of at least the rank of Inspector), he did not deny that the incident had in fact taken place.

The RUC Chief Constable in response to another question from the residents' representatives accepted that the overwhelming majority of people living in the Garvaghy Road area were opposed to the Orange parades. He also accepted that the GRRC represented the views of the residents.

However, CC Annesley went on to suggest that there was no guarantee that the events which had taken place in Portadown with regard to the Orange parade and subsequent demonstrations in '95 would not happen again. When the residents asked if the RUC was prepared to stand by the statement which DCC Flanagan had told the mediators the previous July (that no parades would take place without the consent of the residents), they were met with silence. The Chief Constable said that the primary responsibility was with the two disputing parties and he felt the onus was on the GRRC to resolve the issue. He accepted that the they had made every effort to meet with the Portadown Orange representatives and if they failed to act on their responsibility then this would have to be taken into consideration.

In answer to their written request, the Church of Ireland Primate, Archbishop Robin Eames, agreed to meet a delegation of residents' representatives. The meeting in Armagh appeared to be the most positive one to date, with the Archbishop telling the delegation that he was hopeful of being able to arrange a meeting between the residents and the Orange Order. He also intimated his belief that he would be able to bring the Unionist political parties, as well as the loyalist paramilitaries on board. Nevertheless, at Easter, Eames was to inform the residents that his attempts to facilitate a meeting had ended in failure.

A meeting was also held between the residents and the SDLP's Brid Rodgers and Mark Durkan.

In May and June, public meetings were held in the Garvaghy Road area at which there was unanimous support given to the Residents Coalition, and universal calls were made for the rerouting of the forthcoming parades. A meeting was also held with the Portadown RUC commander.

Also at the end of May, representatives of the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition met with Deputy Chief Constable Flanagan and Assistant Chief Constable Hall. Flanagan denied having made any statement the previous year to the mediators concerning future parades along the Garvaghy Road. However, he said that, unlike in other years, a decision would be announced as to whether or not the Drumcree parade could go ahead several days beforehand. The residents again reiterated the opposition of their community to any such parades by the Orange Order along the Garvaghy Road. They told Flanagan and Hall that it was their intention to use whatever peaceful and legal means they could to prevent the parade going ahead against the stated wishes of Portadown's Catholic/Nationalist community. The residents representatives also clearly informed the two senior RUC officers that any protests organised by the GRRC would be wholly confined to local people.

June saw the beginning of prosecutions against Nationalists for their part in the anti-parade protests of the previous July. Five people were due to appear in court on charges of hindering the free flow of traffic. Only one case went ahead while the rest were adjourned for another several months.

The two day hearing against the chairperson of the Residents Coalition, Breandan Mac Cionnaith, was eventually thrown out by the magistrate. The magistrate criticised the Crown Prosecution for having brought the case in the first place, stating at one juncture "I have not seen anything at all that would remotely approximate to support this charge". He went on to describe evidence given by several RUC witnesses as being "flimsy and nebulous. " During the course of the proceedings, the main RUC witness, Superintendent James Blair, was shown to have produced false and manufactured documentary evidence while under oath.

The GRRC, meanwhile, had engaged legal counsel in order to institute High Court action to prevent the Orange march from proceeding, and a number of various legal challenges were planned by the lawyers.

At the invitation of Craigavon Community and Police Liaison Committee, the Residents' Coalition addressed that body, putting forward their case for the rerouting of the Orange marches. A similar invitation was also issued to the Orange Order but they refused to attend.

On June 27, less than a fortnight before the planned Orange march was due to take place, the GRRC called another public meeting in Ashgrove Community Centre. Aware of the false allegations being made by Unionists and Orangemen that the GRRC was only a republican front, representatives of various political parties and other observers were invited to attend. Those who accepted the invitation were Tom French (Workers Party), Dr. William Ramsey (Alliance Party), Brid Rodgers (SDLP), Pat McGeown (Sinn Fein), and Fr. Raymond Murray. An official of the Irish Government observed the proceedings. The GRRC's legal advisors were also present. Over 800 people attended the meeting, many of whom were unable to get into the actual centre. Those present unanimously voted in favour of holding peaceful protests in the event of the authorities deciding to allow the contentious parade to go ahead.

It was proposed and carried that the protests should commence from Thursday July 4th onwards. The meeting also decided that a community festival would be organised for the Garvaghy Road on Sunday July 7th and that a protest march would take place that same morning. The RUC were subsequently given the statutory notification concerning these activities. It also became obvious during the course of the public meeting that a substantial number of people were also opposed to the route taken by the Orange Order on their way to Drumcree. However, the majority of those present accepted that if the Orange Order were to voluntarily reroute from the Garvaghy Road, the Charles St./Dungannon Road route would not be questioned.

On Wednesday July 3, the GRRC held a meeting with DCC Flanagan and ACC Hall in Belfast. The meeting lasted for less than an hour, during which time the Deputy Chief Constable attempted to instill fear in the GRRC delegation. For most of the meeting, Flanagan tried to paint a bleak scenario of what would happen should the Orange march be rerouted. He made it known that the Orange Order had an organised plan ready to put into operation if the march did not get going down the Garvaghy Road. The residents asked what the RUC decision was to be but he refused to answer, saying it would be announced within the next 48 hours. The residents told Flanagan that they were also aware of the Orangemen's plans, and that the threat of force had been used before in Portadown by the Order. They expressed disappointment that the Orangemen had not negotiated with them and had forfeited any right to parade.

On Thursday July 4, around 500 people took part in the first of the series of protests on the Garvaghy Road against the Orange march due on the 7th. The protest, which took the form of a roadside picket, stretched for half a mile along the road, and was video-taped by the RUC. Following the hour long protest those taking part in the protest were addressed by a speaker from the GRRC.

On Friday morning, the world media gathered at RUC Headquarters to hear the decision concerning Sunday's Orange march. They were disappointed. The RUC said that the announcement was delayed until the following day as "negotiations" were ongoing. This came as a surprise to the Residents Coalition who issued a statement asking who was negotiating with who, as they had not had any contact with the RUC, or anyone else, since Wednesday.

On Friday afternoon. the residents commenced their legal bid in the High Court to force the Secretary of State to use the powers available to him to ban the march. The judge hearing the case adjourned until Saturday, pending the outcome of the RUC announcement. Many of the Northern Ireland Office's most senior officials were present for the hearing and, unusually for a Friday afternoon, three Appeal Court Judges were on stand-by.

That evening the second protest was held on the Garvaghy Road. The crowd was larger than the night before, with somewhere in the region of 800 people taking part.

That night, the Residents Coalition received a set of proposals from Archbishop Robin Eames, suggesting that a meeting with the Orange Order take place on Saturday morning. The Coalition viewed Dr. Eames' proposals as very unhelpful and biased against them, given the addendum that in his view

"a march along the Garvaghy Road would form a necessary part of any agreement."

Eames' proposed meeting never took place as the Orange Order again refused to enter into any form of dialogue with the Residents' Coalition.

On Saturday morning, the residents returned to the High Court in Belfast to resume the adjourned legal action. Again, many senior NIO officials were present, and once more, three Appeal Court judges had been put on stand-by by the Government should the High Court have ruled in favour of the residents.

At the same time, the RUC Chief Constable, Hugh Annesley, held his delayed press conference. In announcing the rerouting of the Drumcree march away from Garvaghy, Annesley told the press that there was a perfectly acceptable and viable alternative route available to the Orange Order - an argument Nationalists in Portadown had been making for years.

Given this decision, the Residents' legal action did not now go ahead, and a statement was issued by them saying that all activities planned by the GRRC were now cancelled. The statement called on people to remain calm in the difficult days ahead and expressed concern for the safety of people living in possible flashpoint areas.

The Grand Master of the Orange Order, Martin Smyth MP, condemned the RUC decision and in a strange twist to the history of the situation in Portadown said;

"It is actually bowing to an element who have orchestrated the last two years this protest, whereas in previous years, it had gone without any problem."(Sunday Life July 7)

Smyth's statement was part of a concerted propaganda campaign being waged by the Orange Order to try an convince the media and public opinion that Orange marches had never caused controversy before in Portadown.

Ian Paisley, ignoring all the efforts made by the residents throughout the year and the fact that the GRRC had only ever engaged in peaceful protests and legal challenges, went even further:

"When a country is run by threats and when the authorities give in to threats, then there is no law and order." (Sunday Life July 7)

Given what was about to happen over the next week, Paisley's words were to have a prophetic ring about them, albeit in a different context.

The Mid-Ulster UVF issued a grimly worded statement which hinted at its intention to use force -

"There is a feeling on the ground that we have reached the point of no return." (Sunday Life July 7)

Ominously, in the light of the UVF statement, the Sunday World carried a report saying it,

"... had learned that contingency plans are already in place to carry out a terrorist attack against Catholics."

Throughout the night of Saturday July 6th 1996, over 2,000 British troops and RUC men were deployed in Portadown. The GAA field at Ballyoran and St. John the Baptist primary school on the Garvaghy Road were turned into military installations. A number of RUC landrovers were lined across the road at Drumcree. Behind them were more RUC landrovers with British Army armoured personnel carriers as further back-up. Overnight, the Nationalist areas had taken on the appearance of a war-zone.

Declan Bree TD, Joe Costello TD, Eamon Úi Chaoibh TD and Senator Sean Maloney arrived in town at the request of the GRRC to act as observers.

On Sunday morning, larger than usual numbers of Orangemen took part in the Orange march to Drumcree, with the local MP, David Trimble, at its' head. Hundreds of hangers-on were allowed by the RUC to accompany the march past Catholic homes at Craigwell Avenue, Charles St. and the Dungannon Road. As the last of the marchers passed through Charles St., their supporters completely blockaded the road. A BBC camera crew and a press photographer were attacked.

Following the church service, the Orangemen paraded towards the RUC lines and then returned to outside the Church where their leaders addressed them. Harold Gracey told the Orangemen that, in a few hours, they would see the protests happening throughout the North. One reporter was later to state that Gracey was seen "in conversation" several times during Sunday with Billy Wright.

Orange Grand Master, the Rev Martin Smith told the assembled throng -

"Drumcree is not isolated. If you think you can isolate it you have made a grave mistake. There can be no compromise."

Ian Paisley was in his usual blood curdling form when he arrived in the afternoon -

"We are fighting for the promise of the life to come, and that's worth fighting for and that's worth dying for."

As thousands more Orangemen and supporters began to pour into Drumcree and throughout the day, sporadic violence erupted.

Across the Six Counties, roads were blocked in Belfast, Larne, Ballymena, Tobermore, Markethill, Moira, Dervock, Dromore, Bangor, Newtownards, Ballymena and several other areas, The RUC made little or no attempts to intervene.

Orangemen and their supporters seized control of all roads around Portadown and the town's Catholic/Nationalist community was effectively left isolated. International observers later stated Orangemen and their supporters were mounting roadblocks around the town and controlling all access to traffic.

As night fell, Orangemen and their supporters made several violent and unsuccessful attempts to break through the barbed wire entanglements at Drumcree.

A Catholic taxi-driver was murdered during the hours of darkness by loyalist paramilitary elements, widely believed to be members of the Mid-Ulster UVF. The body of 31 year old Michael McGoldrick from Lurgan, the father of a seven year old girl and whose wife was expecting their second child, was not discovered until Monday morning. The dead man's parents said that "fire and brimstone" speeches by politicians had caused their son's death.

Only a few hundred Orangemen remained at Drumcree. Almost all shops and businesses in Portadown were forced to close on Monday following threats from Loyalist paramilitaries. All roads into town remained closed and many vehicles were hijacked and burned by "peaceful" Orange protesters. In Ballymena, over £1,000,000 in damages was caused by rioting loyalists and the main Portadown-Dublin railway line was blocked at Poyntzpass. Armagh City was added to the list of blockaded towns. Main roads across the North, including the MI, M2 and the main Belfast-Dublin road were blocked. Unionist politicians, leading Orange figures and members of the business community were identified as having participated in the illegal blockades. In Belfast, Catholic families were forced out of their homes in the Oldpark area. Larne Harbour and Belfast International Airport are blockaded and the funeral cortege of a woman who died in Wolverhampton was prevented from leaving the airport.

In contrast to their inaction against the illegal blockades by the Orange Order which were bringing the North to a standstill, the RUC batoned Nationalists protesting against an Orange parade in Bellaghy.

Nationalists in Portadown were expressing their concern at the apparent freedom of movement being enjoyed by Orangemen. No attempts were made by the RUC or British Army to prevent Orangemen marching out to Drumcree from the town centre. Catholics living in Craigwell Avenue, Charles St. and along the Dungannon Road were the targets of constant abuse by these marchers.

Several thousand Orangemen and supporters again gathered at Drumcree that evening, and once more there were sporadic outbreaks of violence.

The Rev. Martin Smyth, MP and Grand Master of the Orange Order, commenced a campaign aimed at demonising the main spokesperson for the Garvaghy Residents. As a result of these personal attacks and before the week was over, the residents' spokesperson was to become the focus of intense loyalist hatred and the recipient of several paramilitary death threats.

Many people hoped that someone within the Unionist community would raise a voice of opposition to what was being carried out in their name. Only silence was heard as the powerful Orange card ensured everyone toed the line. Unionists politicians of all shades made clear their support for the Orange Order while ignoring the lawlessness taking place all around them.

As darkness fell, Orangemen used a powerful public address system continually during the night to prevent residents in the Nationalist areas from sleeping in a not-so-subtle attempt at psychological warfare.

On Tuesday morning the GRRC received a telephone call from Peter Smyth of the Northern Ireland Office. The NIO were seeking a private, off-the record meeting. Conscious of the fact that the Secretary of State had refused the Coalition's earlier request for a meeting on the grounds that "it would serve no useful purpose", and wary that the NIO might later deny the meeting, the GRRC asked Smyth to put the request in writing. The NIO then faxed a letter through which was signed by J. M. Steele. Steele's letter said the purpose of the discussions would be to get a first-hand impression of the feelings of the local community at this particularly tense period; and to explore what, if any, room for manoeuvre the association sees as existing now or in the future."

The Residents Coalition met and discussed Smyth's letter and agreed to a meeting. They sent a reply to the NIO setting out points for discussion, including the rerouting and the feelings of the local community.

The Coalition's response also pointed out that any Orange march down the Garvaghy Road that year was "currently viewed as totally unacceptable and not open to discussion."

That morning's edition of the Guardian newspaper carried a photograph, taken in Portadown within hours of the murder of Michael McGoldrick, of a Loyalist paramilitary armed with an AK47 assault rifle. A message faxed to the GRRC office, in a chilling and ominous reference to the McGoldrick murder stated quite simply -

"1 DEAD, 5,999 MORE TO GO"

Right across the North, Orangemen and their supporters continued with their blockades. Reports were being received by the media that many of these blockades were taking place with the apparent collusion of the RUC in many places. By now, Orange and Unionist leaders were threatening to bring every Orangemen in the North to Portadown for the Twelfth.

Many hundreds of messages pledging solidarity and support for the beleaguered Nationalist community were now arriving from throughout all the 32 Counties, Britain, USA, Canada, Italy, France, Germany, and even as far away as Australia and New Zealand. Human rights groups and activists; ordinary men, women and children; tenants and community groups; political parties. All stating a simple message - that despite the Orange Order's attempts to blockade and physically intimidate the Nationalist community in Portadown, vulnerable though it was, that community was far from isolated.

A near riot situation was prevented in the afternoon on the Garvaghy Road by members of the Residents Coalition. Superintendent Blair and a number of other RUC officers were seen meeting there with Trimble, Gracey and another Orangeman in full view of the local people. This angered many residents who had now been living under siege for 48 hours. When members of the GRRC arrived on the scene, Trimble and company immediately left the area by car. When the Blair was challenged by committee members as to whether he was deliberately trying to provoke a riot by meeting with Trimble and the others in the Nationalist area, Blair angrily responded that "there is no such thing as a Nationalist area in this town."

Numbers of Orangemen at Drumcree again remained fairly small during the day, prompting many to ask why no effort was being made to remove them. In Derry the Unionist Mayor of the city took part in a blockade of Craigavon Bridge. That evening also saw a repetition of the previous nights marches from the town out to Drumcree by several thousands of Orangemen and bands. Fleets of buses ferried the marchers in from various parts of the North. The, by now, familiar sectarian chant of "we're going to burn Garvaghy, we're going to burn Garvaghy" was heard clearly across the fields in the nearby Catholic estates, where tension was already high. At one stage, when the Orange mob threatened to burst through RUC lines, a small number of plastic bullets were fired.

David Trimble and Ian Paisley flew to London where they held talks with the British Prime Minister that evening.

Around the same time, Breandan Mac Cionnaith of the Residents Coalition received a request from the Church of Ireland Primate, Archbishop Robin Eames, for a meeting on Wednesday morning in Armagh to discuss what Archbishop Eames termed "the current dilemma". The Coalition met and discussed Archbishop Eames' offer of a meeting. It was agreed that Mac Cionnaith should go and hear what Archbishop Eames had to say.

The Orange Order maintained the psychological warfare with their P.A. system throughout the night, with tape recordings of loyalist music and speeches constantly being played.

A meeting between Mac Cionnaith and Archbishop Eames took place at 9.15 am and lasted for around 30 minutes. Archbishop Eames expressed his concern at the deteriorating situation in the North, and asked was there any way out of the dilemma.

Mac Cionnaith said that he was only too well aware of the situation as his community, in Portadown was bearing the brunt of the Orange intimidation. He pointed out that it was the Orange Order and Unionist politicians who had created the situation , not the Nationalist community. So therefore any onus must be on those same people to solve it. Mac Cionnaith also reminded Archbishop Eames that the Residents Coalition had been trying for over a year to enter into dialogue with the Orange Order on the parades issue without any response.

Archbishop Eames then said he might still be able to arrange a meeting with the Orange Order, but nothing definite was agreed on, as Archbishop Eames suggested some elements within the Orange Order were forming a stumbling block.

Mac Cionnaith and the others returned to Portadown. On both journeys, the residents were stopped by the RUC. At 11. 10 am, a residents' delegation consisting of Breandan Mac Cionnaith, Eamon Stack, Joe Duffy and Laura Boyle met the Northern Ireland Office officials in the local community centre. Present for the NIO were John Steele, Peter Smyth and Ms. McGimpsey. The NIO asked that the meeting be kept confidential but the GRRC delegation insisted that they have freedom to publish details of the meeting if they judged it to be of benefit the residents of the area. The following summary of that meeting is based on the NIO's own records:

The NIO stated that, for the Government, the meeting was a listening exercise with a group recognised as representing the Garvaghy Road residents. While acknowledging the sensitivities of local Nationalists, in view of the deteriorating across Northern Ireland, it would be in everyone's interests if some accommodation could be reached to end the impasse.

The GRRC emphasised that the Nationalist community in Garvaghy Road was unanimously against Orange marches, and that last year's compromise had been based on an understanding that no further parades would take place along the Garvaghy Road, and the RUC at present were merely enforcing that commitment. The intimidation of local Nationalist families was a yearly ritual which had to be halted.

The NIO stated that the situation was recognised even by the leaders of the Orange Order as having the potential for disaster- they needed help in finding a way out.

The GRRC responded by saying that alternative routes had been suggested to the Orange Order. The compromise brokered last year had been exploited by the Order and by Unionist politicians, and was not repeatable. The present situation was not of the GRRC's making, and it was up to the Orange Order to extricate itself from the untenable position it had created by its own actions.

The NIO suggested that the Orange Order leadership had little room for manoeuvre in current circumstances. If a compromise solution involving Orange feet on the Garvaghy Road could be agreed, the role of the GRRC would be recognised and valued by the Government. In addition, the Government would institute a fully independent review of the marching phenomenon, not just in Portadown but in Northern Ireland as a whole.

The GRRC responded by saying it was ironic that it had taken the Government almost a year to recognise the value of the 1995 gesture. The idea of an official inquiry had been around for years, and there was no reason - despite the NIO side's personal assurances - that the latest offer would be any more effective. There would be implacable opposition from the Nationalist community to any compromise to any Orange presence on the Garvaghy Road. The residents also pointed out to the NIO that any possible solutions would have to discussed by the whole committee and publicly endorsed by the local community.

When the full Residents Coalition committee met later, the consensus was that the NIO had offered nothing of substance to the local community. A response to that effect was then sent to the NIO. Indeed, it was the feeling of the GRRC delegates who had been at the earlier meeting that the NIO, and by implication, the British Government, clearly were in favour of an Orange march going ahead. Also becoming clear was the fact that a diplomatic offensive was being launched against the Residents Coalition in order to achieve their community's surrender to the demands of the Orange Order.

Furthermore, the fact is undeniable that this meeting took place with NCO officials acting for the Government. The NIO record clearly shows that statements made by Mayhem and John Major saying the Government was not in any way involved with the decision making over Drumcree were completely untrue.

It is most likely that the decision to force the Orangemen down the Garvaghy Road was made at Government level in the immediate aftermath of this meeting.

Meanwhile at Drumcree, Orangemen had produced a mechanical digger. This digger was driven in and out of Drumcree on three separate occasions. At no time did the RUC or British Army attempt to stop or seize the machine on its' journeys in or out of the area. At its second appearance, steel sheeting had been placed around the cab. The British Army then responded by bringing up their own 20-ton bulldozer which was supported by a 10-ton truck. Still no attempt was made to seize the digger. Nationalists in Portadown wryly remembered back to the 1970's when a similar machine had been commandeered in Obins Street. The British Army and RUC had found no difficulty in retrieving that machine - but then that digger had been commandeered by Nationalists.

Orangemen at Drumcree cheered loudly in response to an announcement over the P.A. system that two companies of the Royal Irish Regiment, based at Mahon Road Barracks in Portadown, had refused to leave the barracks for duty that afternoon.

David Trimble met the leaders of the four main Churches that same afternoon, including Cardinal Daly who had only arrived back from Austria a few hours before. After the meeting, the Church leaders then drew up a set of proposals to put to all sides. Cardinal Daly did not recommend that the GRRC accept the proposals.

Also that evening, British Labour Party spokesperson, Mo Mowlam M.P., flew into the North and met the Residents Coalition. The residents expressed their concerns to her and she promised to highlight the issue.

At shortly after 5.00 pm Archbishop Eames phoned Breandan Mac Cionnaith asking him to nominate three people to meet the Orange Order. Dr. Eames was putting himself forward as chair of any such meeting. The Archbishop was informed that only the entire GRRC committee could decide who would be their representatives at any proposed meeting. At around 7.00 pm, when the Coalition was having its own meeting, Dr. Eames phoned again saying he needed the three names rather urgently. Mac Cionnaith responded by asking him for a set of proposals which would be discussed at the meeting before any delegates could be decided upon.

Later that evening, Cardinal Daly met the Residents Coalition at 8.00 pm in Churchill Park, Portadown. During the course of this meeting, a fax arrived from Dr. Eames outlining several proposals. When Cardinal Daly read the fax, he informed the residents that these proposals were not what the other three Church leaders had agreed to earlier in the day. He indicated that the Orange Order were offering nothing that would leave the Catholic residents with their dignity intact. The Cardinal voiced his support for the alternative route put forward by the GRRC. Dr. Eames was losing the confidence of the GRRC as he seemed too biased in his mediation. Nevertheless, the residents responded to Archbishop Eames' fax by sending him their own proposals.

The Residents' Coalition stated that they would be willing to participate in a meeting with the Orange Order, provided that such a meeting be confined to only members of Portadown District, and be co-chaired by Cardinal Daly and Archbishop Eames. They then proposed two main items for an agenda:

Discussion and agreement on the issue of parity of esteem and the principle of consent to be accepted by the Orange Order in relation to all future marches.
Only in the event of agreement on these issues, would the Residents Coalition be willing to discuss what Archbishop Eames had described as "the current dilemma".

The Coalition also made clear the local community would have to be consulted regarding any proposed agreement concerning marches, and that any such agreement would have to be endorsed and accepted by the community.

There was then a lot of to-ing and fro-ing as Archbishop Eames then tried to set a time for the meeting. It was eventually agreed that the meeting would take place in the offices of the Ulster Carpet Mills at 9.00 am the following day.

However, it would soon become apparent that another train of events was in motion elsewhere that effectively was to make this meeting redundant.

Shortly after the appearance of the RUC's Deputy Chief Constable, Ronnie Flanagan. At Drumcree that night, Harold Gracey and Ian Paisley addressed the crowds of Orangemen assembled there. Both men were extremely confident that the Orange Order would be marching along the Garvaghy Road, and said that the Portadown Orangemen would be in Tandragee, 5 miles away, for the main July 12th rally. Around the same time, many of the RUC and British Army vehicles which, up until then, had been facing the Orangemen, were being redeployed during the hours of darkness to face towards the Catholic/Nationalist enclave.

It was to emerge later that, during the night, a number of journalists were told by prominent Unionist and Orange figures that the Orange march was to be allowed to proceed into town along the Garvaghy Road.

David Trimble held a secret meeting with leading Mid-Ulster Loyalist, Billy Wright, in an upstairs room of Drumcree Church Hall. The meeting would, in all probability, have remained secret but for the presence in the hall of the BBC's Peter Taylor. Unfortunately, Taylor was not privy to that which the Unionist and the Loyalist had discussed. What is known is that David Trimble afterwards conveyed a paramilitary threat from the Mid-Ulster UVF to the British Secretary of State, Patrick Mayhew.

Early on Thursday morning, members of the GRRC arrived at their temporary headquarters in Churchill Park to prepare for the 9.00 am meeting at the Carpet Mills. From 7.00 am onwards they were continually bombarded with questions from media personnel regarding the front page report in that morning's edition of the Belfast News Letter. The paper's headlines carried a stark warning -

DRUMCREE DEAL AFTER LATE-NIGHT TALKS MARCHERS READY TO HIT ROAD TODAY

The Residents' Coalition issued a statement challenging the veracity of the report and said that no deal had been done which involved them. Other reporters and news crews awaited the three residents delegates as they entered the Ulster Carpet Mills before 9.00 am Despite the fact that this residents was to have remained confidential, it was obvious the media had been tipped off. One television journalist said that his informant had been a Protestant clergyman, but refused to name him.

The three residents delegates, Breandan Mac Cionnaith, Joanna Termyson and Eamon Stack entered the building at 9.00 am and were met by Archbishop Eames and Cardinal Daly. Dr. Eames ushered the three into a room on their own and said there would be a slight delay in starting.

Archbishop Eames came into the room about 9.30 am and explained that there would be a further delay as the format of the meeting and other arrangements were still to be finalised. He did not specify what these arrangements were, and left after a few moments, again leaving the three residents' delegates alone. He did not inform them of the presence of the leaders of the Methodist or Presbyterian Churches.

At around 10.20 am, Archbishop Eames returned. The time lag in actually commencing the meeting was beginning to arouse the residents' suspicions, particularly in view of the media reports that morning. He apologised for the delay but said that he now had the names of the three Orange delegates. The first was that of Denis Watson, the Grand Master for all of County Armagh and also a member of the Orange Order's ruling body, the Grand Lodge of Ireland. While Dr. Eames was able to give the other two names, he was unable to say where exactly they were from or who they were representing.

The Garvaghy delegates pointed out to Archbishop Eames that the meeting was supposed to be only with delegates of Portadown District. That was the position which had been agreed to the evening before. They put it to Archbishop Eames that if such a senior member of the Order was going to participate in the meeting, it was quite likely that it would be the Grand Lodge's intention to use any possible outcome or agreement in other areas which had contentious marches. As such it would only be correct that other effected communities, similar to the Garvaghy Road, should also be consulted with. It was either that option or else the Orange delegates should only be confined to solely those from Portadown. The Archbishop accepted what had been agreed to the previous evening. However, the Garvaghy delegates stated that it was not an insurmountable obstacle. Dr. Eames then left. He had been with the residents for just over five minutes.

The movement of a large number of British Army armoured personnel carriers past the building caused further concern, and the delegates contacted the other members of the Coalition to find out what was happening. They were told all was quiet, and nothing untoward appeared to going on. Nevertheless, they would report back using the extension number quoted to the delegates.

At approximately 10.40 am, two clergymen, one Catholic and the other Church of Ireland, who were assisting the four Church leaders entered the room. No further information was forthcoming regarding the other two Orange delegates, but it was hoped that the meeting would be soon under way. The Catholic clergyman also told the delegates that Archbishop Eames' personal secretary had made it known that "a security announcement" by the RUC Chief Constable was to be made within the next hour, but that nothing sinister should be taken from that.

Once more on their own, the delegates used the mobile phone to contact their colleagues and give them this information. Given the delay in the commencement of the meeting, it was the delegates' view that only one "security announcement" could be possibly made and that the rest of the Coalition members should start making this fact known within the community. They also asked that transport be made available to pick them up at the Carpet factory, should that prove necessary. It was growing abundantly clear that the whole idea of a meeting had been a complicated ploy to lull Nationalists into a false sense of security, and an attempt to ensure that their community's leadership was kept out of the way.

At just after 11.00 am, the delegates received telephoned reports of major RUC movements at Drumcree Road. They then asked to speak to the Church leaders. The residents then entered the room where the churchmen were and informed them that they were leaving and returning to Churchill Park. They stated that, in their opinion, the meeting had been a complete sham. On leaving the building, the residents' delegates were told that the Orange representatives had already left earlier. At no stage were the residents ever informed of this fact.

The leadership of the GRRC had been cut off from the community and only discovered by chance that the RUC were moving in to seal off the Garvaghy Road. By the time the three reached Churchill Park, the RUC was already preparing to force the Orangemen through the area. As a result of the delegates hurriedly informing the community of the new situation, several hundred local residents congregated on the Garvaghy Road, with a large force of RUC personnel in full riot gear less than fifty yards away from them. One member of the Residents' Coalition, Joe Duffy, who had asked to talk to a senior RUC officer, was hit by a police baton and suffered a concussion and a head wound. He was later hospitalized. His was to be the first of many injuries received at the hands of the RUC that day.

Many local people were enraged at the RUC and Government's complete and utter capitulation to the Orangemen's demands and threats of force. They also knew that the next minutes were not going to be easy. Determined to maintain their rights and their dignity, and showing that they, at least, refused to accept or succumb to the dominance of the Orange Order, as one body they sat down on the roadway and chanted their defiance at the Order, the Government and its' forces: "No Sectarian Marches, No Sectarian Marches".

Chief Superintendent McCreesh approached the residents' spokesperson in order to talk to him. Mr. McCreesh's first words were "I had no part in this - I'm only carrying out orders". He was told the Nazi SS had once used the same excuse and the conversation was closed. A few minutes later Mr. McCreesh approached the sit-down protesters. His attempts to speak were drowned by locals chanting "SS RUC". In response, he turned around and waved his blackthorn stick at the men under his command.

It was the order for the RUC to commence one of the worst displays of sectarian thuggery witnessed since 1969. Age or sex did not matter as hundreds of RUC men, heavily clad with body armour, mercilessly attacked the protesters from three sides. Men, women and children were assaulted and dragged screaming from the roadway and thrown behind a row of armoured landrovers.

Wooden RUC batons crashed into the limbs and skulls of others. Even hardened journalists were repulsed at what they bore witness to, as the crack of breaking arms and legs could be heard clearly. In a few minutes, the road was clear and sealed off by a double line of landrovers. In those few minutes at least fifty people had suffered broken limbs, head wounds and were in need of medical treatment.

But the RUC's orgy of violence had not ended. When the Orange march victoriously turned from Drumcree Road onto the Garvaghy Road, the drumbeats were the signal for yet another needless attack by the RUC. As men, women and children stood about still reeling from the shock caused by the viciousness of the RUC's first assault and while others treated the injured, two lines of RUC men with shields and batons charged the residents again. Beating them into the estate, the RUC commenced firing continuously while a small group of youth fired stones. There followed completely indiscriminate volleys of plastic baton rounds, causing even more injuries.

Among the wounded was a Canadian press photographer, hit on the shoulder by a plastic bullet. Other press photographers, reporters and television news crews were forced out of the area by the RUC to prevent them recording the brutality meted out on a community whose only crime was their refusal to acquiesce to the triumphalist and sectarian parades of the Orange Order. Indeed one RUC man was heard quite clearly on television telling his colleagues to "Get that scum out of here" as one camera crew was frogmarched out of the area. A Catholic priest who tried to remonstrate with the RUC was verbally abused by members of this "impartial and professional police force".

As the march passed and made its' way towards the town centre where thousands of loyalists had gathered, shock and disbelief on the Garvaghy Road turned to fury as Nationalist youths ineffectually tried to respond to the RUC's actions by throwing anything on which they could lay their hands.

It was the beginning of a fury that spread throughout the entire island, which united behind a trampled, bloodied but dignified community, and which outrightly condemned the British Government and those forces under its' control. It was an understandable reaction to a series of events which was vividly described by one mother of three children from Churchill Park when she said, "This community, the Garvaghy Road community, was raped".

Peaceful protesters had been subjected by four days of terror and intimidation only to be subject to a disgraceful display of state violence. This provided a violent backlash which left a second person dead (in Derry). A week later the community was brought back to the power of peaceful political protest by a rally which saw 4000 visitors join the 6,000 residents in a silent walk through their area.

The hurt continued when comments and statements made later by the British Prime Minister, the Secretary of State and the RUC Chief Constable sought to distort the truth and to apportion blame for those events upon the Catholic/Nationalist community. It would only further compound the injustices against this community to allow those remarks to go unchallenged.

Barry Cowan of Radio Ulster's Seven Days programme on Saturday July 13, conducted an in-depth interview with the RUC Chief Constable, Hugh Annesley. On Monday July 15, British Prime Minister, John Major was interviewed on the BBC panorama programme by David Dimbleby.

Chief Constable Annesley - "The failure and the violence of Drumcree lies squarely on the shoulders of the Portadown Orange Lodge and on the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition who between them had over one year to sort out whether or not the march should go down"

John Major - "I think the Garvaghy Road residents were unreasonable in the way they refused to discuss and to compromise for a long time on how a peaceful march, a peaceful march could have passed through Garvaghy Road."

They failed to recognise the gesture of compromise made by the residents one year previously. Neither did they recognise the disgraceful manner in which that compromise was mistreated and abused by the Orange Order and by Unionist politicians. They also failed to recognise the reasonable grounds on which a minority community in Portadown are justified is withholding consent to the Drumcree parade passing through the heart of their area.

Both men ignored the fact that the Residents' Coalition worked for over a year to reach a resolution of the marching issue in Portadown. That fact has been confirmed by independent mediators who helped broker the '95 compromise, and who tried unsuccessfully on the GRRC's behalf to open direct dialogue with the Orange Order. For twelve months the Orange Order refused to meet the residents. So too did the local MP David Trimble and the Secretary Of State. This fact is also supported by the comments of Cardinal Cathal Daly on Thursday July 11 1996 when he said that the GRRC "tried very hard over twelve months to find a reasonable solution to this year's march through dialogue and agreement. Their repeated requests for meetings and dialogue were spurned."

Both men totally ignored the Mediation Network statement of July 12, 1996, which stated that the RUC had assured them in July 1995 that "there would be no further marches on Garvaghy Road without the residents' consent".

The Mediation Network also said "During the past year our efforts (at mediation) have been hindered by the inability of the Orange Order to recognise the bona fides of residents' groups such as the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition".

Annesley - "There was no political interference with me either at the beginning, in the middle or at the end. There was no interference with me from the Northern Ireland Office, from the Prime Minister."
Major - "It is not for ministers to instruct the Chief Constable on how to handle a matter dealing with control on the streets. He is the professional at that, not the Secretary, of State or any other minister"

Why then did NIO officials acting on behalf of the Government meet with the GRRC on Wednesday July 10, seeking, on behalf of that same Government, "to put Orange feet on Garvaghy Road"?

Did Annesley and Major expect anyone to believe that there was no Governmental input in the decision to force through the march on July 11? A decision which Cardinal Daly described as being "clearly taken for political reasons".

Annesley - "I would not have traded one life for the Garvaghy Road."

One man's life had already been traded: - that of 31 year old Michael McGoldrick, murdered by loyalist paramilitaries acting in support of the Orange Order at Drumcree. Hours before Annesley's interview was broadcast, another life was traded for the Garvaghy Road: -that of 35 year old Dermot McShane in Derry, crushed beneath a British Army Saxon carrier.

One unmistakeable reality is that the events of July 7-11 could have been avoided. In the year prior to July 96, the Garvaghy Road Residents' Coalition made many attempts to enter into a genuine dialogue with the Orange Order. All those attempts were spurned and rejected. Even the local MP and Unionist Party Leader, David Trimble, who should have known better, opted to "ride the wild horses of hatred and sectarianism" (Irish Times Editorial July 13 1995) rather than enter into dialogue to resolve this issue. The British Secretary of State also saw "no useful purpose" in discussing the matter with local residents.

The Orange Order lost any right to parade with its symbols and emblems down the Garvaghy Road by its triumphalist behaviour after 1995 and its refusal to meet the only representatives of the local community on this issue. How can a small community, that has to shoulder more than its fair share of deprivation, stand up to the combined forces of the Orange Order, the unionist parties and loyalist extremists? How can its voice be heard? The media have been of tremendous help by portraying the ugly reality. But ultimately it is up to the state and the forces of law and order to protect all the citizens.

It is that lack of will by the State which was demonstrated clearly on July 10 at the meeting which took place between British Government representatives and the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition. Those Government officials did not seek to reassure residents that they would be afforded the same full protection of their rights by the State and all its' forces as people living in Surrey or Sussex would expect to be afforded.

No. Those same Government officials preferred to see "Orange feet on Garvaghy Road" irrespective of the protection of whatever rights the people of Garvaghy were entitled to. In return, the Government would institute "a fully independent review of the marching phenomenon, not just in Portadown, but in Northern Ireland as a whole". Little wonder such an offer was rejected. If their rights to live peacefully within in their own neighbourhood could not be protected in July, how would a "review of the marching phenomenon" protect their rights in the future?

It is up to the state to give special concern for the minorities and the deprived. Alas there was an abysmal failure to do so in the Drumcree crisis of 1996.

The 1996 Drumcree crisis has resulted, directly and indirectly, in three deaths, in a feeling of rage and outrage of the minority tradition in Northern Ireland, and a small deprived community reeling from a week of Orange Order terror tactics and from being humiliated by the police. Maybe this experience will bring to the attention of all what is at the heart of the matter - It is not the marches, it is not the banners or the bands, it is not the numbers taking part that is the problem - the problem is the Orange Order itself as an overtly sectarian and political organisation that places itself above the law. At least this year there was no march allowed.

But the fat lady hasn't sang yet, I fear.

Throughout its' history, the Order has been chiefly concerned with the maintenance of the superiority and dominance of one section of the population over the other. Many people, including churchmen and other members of the Protestant community, have recognised this fact. Some governments even tried in vain to suppress the Orange organisation in the last century to no avail. Those attempts failed, not because of a lack of effective legislation, but because of the lack of a political will by Governments to properly implement that legislation effectively. July 1996 was no different from other years in that respect.

When the Prime Minister and his Northern Secretary denied that there had been any Governmental input into the decision to force the march along the Garvaghy Road on July 11th 1996, they were being economic with the truth. After all, NIO officials met the Residents' Coalition on the Government's behalf on July 10th and proposed exactly that which the Government would make public in the House of Commons 24 hours later.

The scepticism that a review body would secure the rights of Portadown Nationalists is well-founded - a review body that was originally put forward to secure "Orange feet on Garvaghy Road" irrespective of the wishes of the overwhelming majority of those who live there.

The only really significant statement that the Independent Review Body of Parades and Marches could report to the British Government is that until such times as some Government is prepared to admit to and then redress the sectarian influence of the Loyal Orders in Six County state, and their ability to undermine the legal justice system, the problems they create could well prove to remain an annual affliction.

In light of the events of this year, and of previous years, it is an unacceptable, unjustifiable and unnecessary affliction which this community does not wish to have visited upon it again. Two alternative routes do exist for the Orange Order to march to and from Drumcree. The first is from the town centre via Corcrain Road, Charles St., and Dungannon Road, returning by that route. The second is from the town centre via Loughgall Road, Corcullentragh and across to the Drumcree Road, again returning by this same route.

The first is the route put forward by the GRRC since 1995 as an acceptable compromise. Even though the march passes Catholic homes and a Catholic Church as it goes along Charles Street and the Dungannon Road this is regarded by this community as the least contentious of the routes through the Nationalist/Catholic area of Portadown. When this compromise was proposed it was sincerely believed that this route offered a comparable level of dignity to both the Orange Order members and the Catholic/Nationalist Community. However, given what occurred this year, particularly in the aftermath of many loyalist attacks on homes along this route, it may be difficult to convince many Nationalists that even this compromise affords them real dignity.

Thank you for reading this.p> B.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Story of Drumcree
From: Brendy
Date: 12 Jul 00 - 09:11 AM

It didn't all fit in!! - Part II

Catholic children returning from what was known locally as "the Canon's trip", a day's excursion organised by the local parish priest were forced to run a gauntlet of abuse on July 16th 1935 as hundreds of Orange supporters assembled to harangue and abuse them. A number of women who had gathered at the railway station to meet the children on their return from the trip were assaulted. The actions of the loyalists and the total indifference of the RUC created much resentment among the Catholic population of the town.

That resentment, already fuelled by the Orange marches through Obins Street a few days beforehand, boiled over the following day into a full scale riot which was sparked off when 3 RUC men were seen to assault a man at the corner of Park Road and Obins Street. When several baton charges failed to disperse the Nationalist crowd, the RUC, under the command of a County Inspector Dudgeon, then opened fire. 56 year old Hugh Faloon, who was standing at the window of his upstairs bedroom of his home in Obins Street was fatally wounded and died two days later. The volleys of shots dispersed the crowd and many fled into their homes, where they were followed by the RUC riot squads, beaten and then arrested.

Orangemen were stoned while passing through Obins Street on July 12th 1937. Some Orangemen were reported to have been injured, but no other incidents are said to have taken place.

During the Second World War, no Orange Marches took place in the Six Counties and, for the first time since the establishment of the Orange Order, Portadown experienced a decade relatively free from civil and sectarian strife.

Eight Catholics were prosecuted as a result of what appeared to be a peaceful protest during an Orange parade in Obins Street on July 13 1950. J. and M. Creaney, P. Shevlin, M. Hughes, R. O'Connor, M. Grimley, J. Creaney and T. Kelly were defended by Mr. H. McParland (instructed by Senator J. G. Lennon, Armagh).

Mr. McParland stressed that the defendants had merely attempted to walk across the street where they lived while an Orange Parade was passing. He pointed out that there was an alternative route for the parade and if the alternative route was taken by the marchers it would prevent trouble in the future. Mr. Mc Parland said that " His Worship might even intimate that was a reasonable suggestion on the part of the defendants .... In a number of other towns the police diplomatically arranged that the processions do not go through certain areas. "

Mr. McParland said that the route through Obins Street was an abnormal one and there was a suggestion of "trailing of coats" in the use of this route.

Head Constable Stansfield, when being questioned by Mr. Mc Parland, admitted that at least one of the bands was playing party tunes and that the daughter of one of the defendants had been assaulted by Orangemen in the parade. When, under further cross examination, the Head Constable admitted that the local Nationalist accordion band was confined to parading in Obins Street, defence counsel asked him did he not think that, in the interests of peace, the Orangemen should be confined to their own areas, Stansfield replied, "It is not given to me to think ... I am here to obey orders!"

Four of the defendants were found guilty and fined. Despite Stansfield's admission in court regarding the assault, no Orangemen were prosecuted.

Head Constable Stansfield was a central figure in another court case in 1954 which arose out of an incident when a car was deliberately driven through a Nationalist procession headed by St. Patrick's Band in Obins Street. A young woman was charged with "indecent conduct". Stansfield said that he went to break up a crowd of people who were hammering on the car when the young woman ran towards him. "I put up my clenched fist with the gloves in it and she ran her face right into my knuckle", he stated.

Defence counsel suggested that the police hadn't made adequate traffic arrangements, and pointed out that the Nationalist band seemed to have a most unfortunate history of similar incidents - a lorry drove through it in 1948 seriously injuring a number of band members and supporters; on another occasion a bus drove through it; and in August 1952 a motorcycle crashed into it. (Quite remarkable given that the band was always confined by the RUC to parading along a 600 yard long stretch of one street!)

Nevertheless the law took its course and the young woman was convicted on an amended charge of disorderly behaviour - assaulting a policeman's fist with her face would not have looked right on a charge sheet.

During the 1950's and 1960's, local residents generally ignored the Orange Marches through the Nationalist areas of the town at the request of the local Catholic clergy. Some local people continued to attempt to protest at these annual provocative displays, but no major incidents occurred.

The 1960's also saw the commencement of a major housing redevelopment programme in the town. Much of the older housing stock, particularly in Curran St., John St., Mary St., River Lane, etc., was demolished and the new housing estates of Garvaghy Park, Churchill Park and Ballyoran Park were built along the Garvaghy Road. With the advent of "the Troubles" the sectarian divide in housing became even more pronounced. This led to a situation along the Garvaghy Road which even the Orange Order admits to in "The Orange Citadel", an official history of Portadown Orangeism.

"Where once Orangemen had walked along the Garvaghy Road to the gaze of no-one, they now walked past housing estates which were almost exclusively Roman Catholic and who resented the parade."

Indeed, that same history also reveals that "during the 1970's and early 1980's repeated attempts were made by the Roman Catholics of Obins Street and Garvaghy Road to prevent Orange parades from walking through these districts".

With the commencement of the Civil Rights Campaign in the late Sixties, attention again began to focus locally on the Orange marches. July 14th 1969 saw a crowd of 400 - 500 members of the Black Preceptory and their supporters lay siege to a public house in Woodhouse Street, where a young man from the Obins Street area was being held by the RUC. Fighting had broken out while the Black parade was going through Obins Street and the RUC had bundled the young man into the pub to save him from the mob. He was later charged with assaulting one of his attackers.

As the Civil Rights campaign continued, an attempt by the People's Democracy to hold a meeting in Portadown town centre in March 1970 led to a violent Loyalist reaction. Hundreds of Loyalists gathered to oppose and disrupt the meeting, despite the presence of a large number of RUC and British Army personnel.

Many Nationalists fled from Portadown in advance of the Drumcree and other Orange parades in July 1971. The Drumcree parade through Obins Street on Sunday July 4th saw a large number of the recently disbanded "B" Specials lead over 1,000 Orangemen through the area. The Nationalist areas were completely saturated by hundreds of RUC and British troops, in order to prevent any opposition to the marches.

All roads into Portadown were completely cut off by Loyalists and the Obins Street area was the subject of continuous assault by Loyalist mobs from Sunday March 26th until Wednesday 29th March 1972 after the suspension of the Stormont Government. In response, the extreme Loyalist grouping, the Ulster Vanguard Movement of which David Trimble was Deputy Leader, had called for a forty-eight hour strike. In the town centre, all known Catholic- owned businesses were wrecked and looted, and scores of Catholic families living in Protestant areas were intimidated and forced out of their homes.

The Portadown Resistance Committee, which had organised the defence of the town's Nationalist areas during the Loyalist attacks, made an appeal in April calling on the authorities to reroute the July parades and condemned those who issued hypocritical statements about community relations while ignoring the plight of the small Nationalist community which was in a constant state of siege.

At the start of July, the UDA set up "no-go" areas around the town. Within hours of these UDA controlled areas being established, a 47 year old Catholic disappeared. The tortured and mutilated body of Felix Hughes was found submerged in a drain leading to the River Bann four weeks later.

When further pleas for the rerouting of the Orange marches were ignored, local people began to erect barricades all along Obins Street on Saturday 8th July in an attempt to prevent the first of those marches taking place the following day.

On Sunday 9th, a massive force of British troops, including Paratroopers, moved into the area to clear the route for the Orangemen. Scores of CS gas canisters and baton rounds were fired at local people in order to quell opposition to the march. The RUC, who moved into the area behind the troops, smashed their way into homes along Obins Street, badly beating up the occupants.

Having gained control of the area, the RUC and British Army then compounded the sectarian nature of their vicious assault on the local Catholic community by permitting a large contingent of masked and uniformed members of the UDA and UVF to parade and drill in Obins Street. These hooded Loyalist terrorists then lined both sides of the street and saluted as several hundred Orangemen marched through the district on their way to Drumcree. The same contingent of Loyalist terrorists again accompanied the Orangemen on their return from Drumcree along the Garvaghy Road, where another massive British Army deployment effectively suppressed any opposition from the Nationalist residents.

The British Army and RUC actions were carried out at a time when a bipartisan ceasefire was in operation between the IRA and the British, and were classed by the Republican leadership as a severe breach of the truce agreement which eventually totally disintegrated in the Lenadoon area of Belfast later that evening.

Similar oppressive British Army and RUC presences also ensured no opposition to the Orange marches through the area on the July 12th and 13th. Within hours of the 12th parade taking place, a Catholic pub owner Jack McCabe and one of his customers, William Cochrane, were shot dead by an off-duty RUC man in Portadown town centre. A Protestant youth, Paul Beattie, was also shot dead that morning on the Garvaghy Road.

The SDLP presented a dossier detailing the intimidation of Catholic families in Portadown to the British Secretary of State at the beginning of 1973 and, at the end of June, Seamus Mallon again called for the rerouting of Orange Parades away from the Nationalist areas of the town. Obins Street and the Garvaghy Road were swamped by British Army and RUC personnel in order to allow the Oranges marches to go ahead against the wishes of the residents of the area.

An extract from an article in the Sunday Observer newspaper which appeared in July 1974 shows an outsiders view of the Orange parades in Portadown that year,

"This column heads - it's not possible - down through the underpass and into the Catholic ghetto. But it is possible. Superintendent Rogers, head of the Portadown police, gave his permission. The British Army..... cover the parade as it goes, drumming and yelling, to show the Papists who's master in town."

The Portadown News, a local newspaper which was Unionist in orientation, carried another description of what an Orange parade to Drumcree entailed for the town's Catholic population in July 1975,

" A visitor to the town could have been excused if he had been under the impression that a fair proportion of the British Army stationed in Ulster had been drafted into the town, and an equally large proportion of strength of the Royal Ulster Constabulary.
"Right from the moment the procession of 1,000 men and three bands entered Woodhouse Street, there was an atmosphere of a town under siege. Soldiers armed with rifles, and officers equipped with high powered binoculars thronged the railway bridge. Scores of policemen flanked the entrance to the station itself....
"Inside Obins Street, it was a case of troops and police all the way to Corcrain with Saracens (armoured personnel carriers) and land-rovers in profusion and soldiers also prowling around with fierce-looking Alsatian dogs. As well as this, red-capped military policemen, green-clad Women's Army, and of course Women's RUC were also to the fore, not to mention scores of plain clothes policemen and soldiers. All the time a helicopter whirred overhead, swooping down at times to survey the scene.
"... Security measures from the top of Garvaghy Park to Parkmount were just as stringent as those on the outward parade. Saracens and soldiers crowded the grassy slopes of the Ballyoran Park estate, and the entrance to Garvaghy Park. It was the same at Churchill Park where scores of police watched the perimeter and troops were on patrol in the alleyways".

All this for a "church parade" which the Orange Order, even today, maintains has never caused controversy!

Given such extreme levels of saturation of the Nationalist areas of Obins Street and the Garvaghy Road by the British Army and the RUC, any protests against the unwelcome Orange Marches were effectively silenced. It should also be stressed that what amounted to the imposition of martial law and curfew within these areas lasted for up to a full week at a time, and not just for the length of time it took a parade to pass through.

Stranger still, given this high level military operation every year to negate Nationalist protest, was the apparent ease with which two off-duty members of the UDR were able to drive into Obins Street, only hours before the 12th July parade went through the area in 1977. Both men fired their legally-held, UDR issue weapons into a number of houses along the street and then escaped. They were only apprehended later when the car in which they travelling crashed into a British Army Saracen. At their subsequent trial, the Officer Commanding of the local UDR Battalion based at Mahon Barracks in Portadown told the court that both men were outstanding and exemplary soldiers whom he would be proud to have back in the Regiment.

For the next few years, the "security presence" aimed at preventing any protests against the parades was maintained during July. This presence in turn led to minor outbreaks of rioting between local Nationalist youths and RUC/British Army, usually on the eve of a march.

Barricades were erected, plastic baton rounds and at least five shots were fired during serious clashes between Nationalists and the RUC on July 13th 1981. The rioting, which lasted for several hours, broke out after the Orange Order had paraded through Obins Street four times that day. A number of young men were subsequently arrested and charged by the RUC.

At least 100 local residents took part in a peaceful protest against the marches the following day, July 14, when an estimated 1,500 members of the Royal Black Preceptories marched through Obins Street. A solid wall of RUC men lined the footpath along Parkside Flats where the protest was held.

Flag waving loyalists were allowed to congregate at the Railway Bridge entrance to the Nationalist area and hurl threats and abuse at local people. At the trial of those arrested for the July 13th riots, a solicitor defending the young men said that what had happened in Obins Street was the inevitable consequence of allowing Orange parades to take place there.

The Resident Magistrate, Mrs. Sarah Creanor, said that she sympathised with the defence argument that Orange parades were an unnecessary provocation, and agreed that these parades should not be allowed into the area.

Protests against the marches in Obins Street and the Garvaghy Road continued. Despite the presence of the RUC and British troops in 1983, Orange marchers broke ranks in Obins Street and attacked local people at the bottom of Obins Drive. Several local residents had to receive medical attention after being assaulted by the marchers who used ceremonial swords and pikes to carry out the assaults. A serving member of the UDR was identified by locals as being the ringleader of the attack. Claims were afterwards made that there had been obvious collusion between the RUC and the Orange assailants.

On the 17th March 1985, the local Nationalist St. Patrick's accordion band had intended to hold a parade from Obins Street to the Garvaghy Road. Despite their opposition to this parade in previous years, the RUC to the surprise of many locals gave the band permission for the St. Patrick's Day parade including that portion of the route along Park Road.

However, Loyalists led by several Unionist councillors, including the then Mayor of Craigavon, Arnold Hatch, and Cllr Gladys McCullough, threatened to hold a counter-demonstration along the route of the parade. On Sunday morning, 17th March, a crowd of flag waving Loyalists gathered in the Park Road area with Unionist members of the Borough Council, supposedly to hold a "prayer meeting". As the band left Obins Street a large force of RUC personnel immediately moved in to block its' path and senior RUC officers told the organisers that the parade could not proceed as previously agreed. Attempting to take an alternative route, the band was again blocked by the RUC. The band then left to go to a major St. Patrick's Day celebration in County Tyrone by bus.

That evening, on its return from Tyrone the band attempted to parade again along the route agreed with the RUC several weeks beforehand. There was no Loyalist protest that evening. In response the RUC attacked the band members and its' followers, at one stage driving their armoured landrovers through the ranks of the band (which included young children) and onlookers in a deliberate attempt to injure them and force them of the streets.

The reaction of Nationalists was one of outrage and anger. The RUC were shown to be using extreme force to defend the right of the Loyal Orders to parade along very contentious routes while it used force to prevent Nationalists parading on what was a natural and only slightly contentious route. The result of St. Patrick's Day was to galvanise Nationalist opposition to the July Parades. Residents of Obins St. and the Garvaghy Road disrupted a meeting of Craigavon Borough Council in protest at the action of the Mayor and other Unionist councillors. Nationalist politicians, from North and South of the border, made their opposition to the July parades known to the RUC and the British Secretary of State, Douglas Hurd.

As July approached, it was clear that the Nationalist community was determined to see an end to these annual triumphalist rituals in Obins Street and the Garvaghy Road.

On July 5th, it was announced that the 12th and 13th parades through the Nationalist district would be rerouted, but the Drumcree parade would be permitted to continue along Obins Street and the Garvaghy Road on July 7th. Local Nationalist residents held a meeting on the 6th at which they reiterated their demand for the rerouting of all the parades, and announced their intention to hold a peaceful demonstration in Obins Street.

On Sunday 7th, at around 9.30 am residents attempted to hold a peaceful sit- down protest in Obins St. in a last minute effort to halt the parade. As the media looked on, "the RUC waded into the protesters, batoning them without provocation" was how one foreign journalist described the scene. A number were arrested and almost twenty people seriously injured by the RUC, including one man who was beaten unconscious and then dragged along the street. Hand to hand fighting then commenced but, within 10 minutes, hundreds of RUC men in full riot gear had dispersed the protest and cleared the way for the 2,000 Orangemen, led by Unionist M.P.s, Harold McCusker and Rev. Martin Smyth. Among the marchers was the Belfast politician, George Seawright, who openly taunted and gestured at local people in a blatant sectarian manner.

On the return along Garvaghy Road, hundreds of RUC men in riot gear, backed up by troops, sealed off the entire length of roadway, refusing access to any but the Orangemen. Sinn Fein and SDLP representatives, as well as several local Catholic priests, who witnessed the RUC's assault on local people in Obins Street spoke of people's anger and frustration, and again demanded that all such parades be rerouted.

Among those who came to the town to witness the plight of the beleaguered Nationalist community was Mrs. Eunice Schriver, a sister of the assassinated American President, John F. Kennedy.

On the 12th and 13th, Orangemen and their supporters rioted in the town centre for several hours after those parades were rerouted.

On Easter Sunday, 1986 a ban was announced on an Apprentice Boys March due to take place the following day. From around 9.00 pm. on Sunday, hundreds of British troops and RUC men saturated the Garvaghy Road, apparently to enforce the ban. At 11.00 pm, cars with loudspeakers toured the town calling on Loyalists to assemble in the town centre in order to break the ban. Shortly before midnight, the British Army and RUC presence was withdrawn from the Garvaghy Road without explanation and returned to barracks, despite the fact that thousands of Loyalists were gathered in the town centre. Over an hour later, approximately 3-4,000 Loyalists, led by Unionist politicians, including Ian Paisley, began to march along the Garvaghy Road.

Eye-witnesses stated that many of the marchers, who included known members of the RUC and UDR, openly carried firearms. Several RUC landrovers also accompanied the illegal march. As the marchers commenced to attack and wreck Nationalist homes along the road, many local people attempted to defend their homes and families against the Loyalist invasion. The RUC made no effort to prevent the attacks, turning instead upon the Nationalists. Intense fighting broke out between local residents and the RUC, which lasted for several hours, and barricades were erected to prevent the RUC/Loyalists from re-entering the area.

Many people, including local clergy and leading Nationalist representatives, asked how such a march could take place given the large security presence in the area earlier. In a statement issued in the aftermath of that Ku Klux Klan-like march during the hours of darkness, local Catholic clergy said,

"The basic question raised by last night's display is who controls Portadown - local bully boys or a professional, impartial force."

Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams said the fact that no action had been taken to prevent the illegal march demonstrated "more evidence of the untrustworthiness of the RUC."

The SDLP's Seamus Mallon asked searchingly if it was a case of the Chief Constable or "sections within the RUC who are making the ultimate decisions?" Indeed, it was widely believed at the time that the RUC in Portadown had mutinied and had refused to enforce the ban, or to prevent the illegal march taking place. No Loyalists were ever prosecuted for participating in the illegal parade or the attacks upon Catholic homes.

Later, on Monday Loyalists went on the rampage in the town centre looting and wrecking shops and businesses, forcing the RUC to disperse them with plastic baton rounds. A Loyalist youth from Lurgan, Keith White, was fatally wounded by a baton round and died later in hospital.

In the run-up to the July parades, the Parade Action Committee and the Ulster Clubs headed by leading Portadown Orangeman, Alan Wright, threatened major disruption if the Orange parades were prevented from going through Obins Street and Garvaghy Road.

Alan Wright, along with the DUP's Peter Robinson, and Markethill man, Noel Little, (later to be arrested in Paris for offenses linked with alleged loyalist/ South African gunrunning activities) were soon to lead a parade of the Ulster Resistance movement through Portadown. Ulster Resistance was yet another shadowy loyalist paramilitary grouping. The activities of the Parades Action Committee and the Ulster Clubs led to a concerted campaign of intimidation and terror throughout June. Catholic homes and Church owned property came under constant attack. Shots were fired at local people from a car travelling along the Garvaghy Road. An Ulster Clubs' parade on June 16 resulted in several Catholic owned shops being wrecked and St. Patrick's Hall, a Catholic social club in Thomas St. was burned to the ground by the marchers. The Fire Brigade was prevented from going near the blaze for over half an hour and the RUC made no attempt to intervene. On the afternoon of Tuesday 16th, the town centre and many roads leading into the town were blocked by hijacked vehicles in a show of loyalist strength, and all shops were forced to close. Two further midnight marches, organised by the Ulster Clubs and the Parade Action Committee took place in the town on Thursday 19th and Tuesday 24th June. Throughout this whole period the RUC stood back as the local Catholic community was placed under a state of constant siege.

An Irish News editorial of Saturday July 5th condemned the planned Orange marches through the nationalist areas of Portadown, stating,

"It is the simple and stark fact that, once again, members of the Nationalist community of Portadown are to be treated as second class citizens in their own town.....
"It is difficult for those fortunate enough to live in more sophisticated communities to understand and appreciate the deep sense of fear, outrage and humiliation that marks these annual incursions into the little streets of this little town....
"It is no longer relevant to speak of traditional routes and traditional marches as if tradition validated terrorism and intimidation. There is no longer any reason for remaining fixed in a frozen bigotry that prides itself on ignoring change in demographic and geographic realities."

On Sunday 6th July, a massive concentration of RUC and British Army were deployed in Obins Street and the Garvaghy Road to suppress Nationalist protests against the Orange march to Drumcree. 3,000 troops and 1,000 extra RUC personnel had been drafted into the town. Prominent civil liberties activists from Ireland and abroad had been invited to Portadown by the local Sinn Fein councillor, Brian McCann. A protest by Nationalists in Obins Street was the subject of an RUC banning order and prevented from even taking place. Over 300 people had tried to assemble at Parkside flats in Obins Street for the protest only to be faced with the total saturation of the district by the RUC. Another protest on the Garvaghy Road by the People Against Injustice Group was forcibly broken up to make way for the Orangemen. The Portadown Times described clashes between the RUC and local Garvaghy residents as "a pitched battle". The Irish News reported how St. John's Catholic Church was attacked by Orangemen and their supporters while Mass was in progress and a Catholic priest assaulted at the bottom end of Obins St. Father Patrick Thornton received cuts and a swollen eye.

Two of the North's main newspapers were quite similar in their editorial comments regarding the Orange marches through Catholic areas of Portadown:

The Belfast Telegraph - "A better route must be found that will give loyalists the opportunity to parade their colours where they are welcome".
The Irish News - "In the long term, the best contribution police can make in the marching season is to make clear that, in future, parades will be confined to areas where they are not calculated to cause offence."

Again the 12th and 13th Orange and Black parades through the area were the subject of rerouting of rerouting orders away from Obins Street.

It was at this time the British Government and the RUC reached one of the most inexplicable decisions ever taken surrounding Orange marches in the town. Having decided that such marches would no longer be allowed to proceed through Obins Street, many Nationalists believed the authorities would also take the next logical step - reroute the Orangemen away from the Garvaghy Road.

However, logic would seem to have been in short supply. Far from rerouting the contentious Garvaghy Road march, the Orange Order was now told by the RUC that they could now have a second march along this route on July 12th.

Alan Wright described the decision as a "victory" and admitted that he was "overjoyed". John Hume denounced the Garvaghy march as "a boost for the bully boys and cudgel carriers,"

This incensed Nationalists. What the RUC were doing was making a deal with the Orange Order that, if they accepted the rerouting of all marches away from Obins St., the RUC would permit the Order to have a second, and completely new, march along the Garvaghy Road, where the bulk of the town's Catholic Community lived.

On Friday 11th July, hundreds of loyalists attempted to force their way into Obins Avenue and Obins Drive after they were incited to do so following a speech by the extremist politician, George Seawright at an Eleventh Night bonfire in nearby Edgarstown. An English reporter described the scene in Obins Drive,
"Flames and smoke billow in the air. Petrol bombs, flares and bricks come flying over the fence hitting the roofs of pensioners houses. Many residents are out on the street."

This violent onslaught on the area, during which at least two blast bombs were also thrown, lasted for over an hour before the RUC arrived on the scene. In predictable fashion, the RUC attacked local residents and provoked a riot with Nationalists from the Garvaghy Road who were trying to make their way into Obins Street to assist locals defending their homes from the loyalist mobs.

On the 12th morning, Nationalists on the Garvaghy Road were once more assaulted and beaten by baton wielding RUC men, as the Orangemen held their first ever Twelfth parade along the road.

Nevertheless, even this underhand deal made between the RUC and the Orange Order, against the wishes of the local community and without their consultation, did not satisfy the more extreme elements within the Orange and Black Institutions. Besashed extremists and their supporters went on the rampage in the town centre.

During the next twelve months nationalists redoubled their rerouting campaign. It was now clear, even to the RUC, that Orange marches through Obins St. were completely out of the question, given the amount of international publicity the issue was beginning to generate.

In July 1987, it was announced that the Drumcree parade would be completely rerouted from Obins St. Nationalist protest was then focused solely on the Garvaghy Road and hundreds of local people gathered there from early on Sunday morning to take part in a sit-down protest against the Drumcree parade. The Orange parade did not materialise. The staunch upholders of "tradition" decided to break with tradition and, instead of marching to Drumcree, held a religious meeting at Corcrain Orange Hall as a protest at having to take the alternative route away from Obins Street. This clearly demonstrated to many people that the Orange Order could and would break with its hitherto sacrosanct "traditional routes", and they argued that since the Orange Order had voluntarily given up the Garvaghy Road once they could do so again.

Nevertheless, the 12th July morning parade went ahead as usual. As many people held the mistaken opinion that it too would not be taking place on account of the previous Sunday's non-event, the numbers who turned out to object were less than expected. A Women's Silent Protest was prevented from leaving Churchill Park to confront the marchers by the British Army. The RUC were particularly furious with the women protestors, insulting them and ripping away their placards. One of the women was hospitalised.

In June 1988 a planned parade from the Garvaghy Road by the Drumcree Faith and Justice Group into the town centre to highlight the inequality which surrounded the parades issue in Portadown was restricted to a 400 yard stretch of the Garvaghy Road by the RUC. The organisers had told the RUC that only 30 people would take part and that the only symbol would be a banner with a green hand and an orange hand interlinked. The Drumcree Faith and Justice Group had a Christian motivation and commitment to using exclusively peaceful means. They wrote to all the relevant authorities every year expressing their belief that the vast majority of residents were opposed to Orange parades on the Garvaghy Road and that the opposition was just and right on moral and religious grounds. The Orange Order in Portadown never acknowledged the receipt of a letter in the 8 years of their campaign.

In July the Drumcree Faith and Justice Group organised a sit-down protest on the road with only limited numbers taking part. The RUC removed the protesters forcefully. The parade consisted of approximately 500 Orangemen and 4 bands, two Church bands and two "kick the pope" or "loyalist" bands. Crowds of Nationalist residents at Ballyoran, Garvaghy and Churchill were hemmed in by over 1,000 members of the British Army and RUC. The road was lined with security vehicles. As one newspaper report recorded afterwards, "only a massive show of strength from the police and the army ensured the Drumcree parade passed off without major incident."

This was a pattern to be repeated for 5 years. Parades were preceded by nights of riots. Peaceful protests (cross-community tea party, loud music and limited sit down protests) were suppressed by very heavy security presence. By 1991, the Drumcree Faith and Justice Group were becoming aware of criticism that their form of protest was becoming predictable and totally ineffective. It was taking the focus away from the residents opposition to the actual marches.

During the Drumcree parade in 1992, led by David Trimble MP and consisting of 1,200 Orangemen and four bands, marchers and bandsmen broke ranks on the Garvaghy Road and attacked several local people as well as a press photographer in full view of the RUC. The attack incensed Nationalists hemmed in behind RUC lines and clashes broke out between the RUC and locals at Ballyoran Park and also at Churchill Park/Woodside.

A survey carried out in the Garvaghy Road area by the Drumcree Faith and Justice Group in 1993 showed that 95% of those questioned were opposed to Orange marches along that road. For the first time, there was no organised protest against the parades. There was, however, an increase in rioting in the area on the nights before the marches as young people, frustrated at the seemingly ineffectiveness of previous protests, vented their anger on the police and property. The disused Mayfair factory was burned during this riot. In 1994 the DFJ failed to hold a protest. Opposition to the parade was only expressed by riots during two previous nights.

Through this entire period which included the establishment of the Six County State, the 60 years of Stormont with its own laws and police force, the Orange Order enjoyed an unparalleled freedom to demonstrate; a freedom not enjoyed by the minority community. The role of the RUC in securing the Order's ability to regularly parade through communities where such a presence was regarded as offensive, questioned the impartiality of that force. Far from being the 'piggy in the middle' the RUC was seen to be openly acting on behalf of only one community. This in turn helped to reinforce the contempt which the Orange Order showed for any group which sought to question its traditional 'rights', a contempt which was highlighted by the Order's refusal to even acknowledge receipt of letters from the Drumcree Faith and Justice group during it's eight year campaign on this issue. It is against this background of previously enjoyed privileges, which were protected by the state, coupled with this contempt that has led to the situation where Catholic/Nationalists justly demand their rights.
The need to secure consent and agreement, and to respect the legitimate rights of the minority are completely ignored by the Loyal Orders.

By May 1995, local community activists were attempting to harness the resentment and anger which the Orange parades created into a constructive and peaceful campaign. This led to the formation of the Garvaghy Road Residents Group, which was to act as an umbrella group of tenants associations in the various housing estates, political parties and Drumcree and Justice Group. At the inaugural public meeting to select a committee for the group, held on May 10 in Drumcree Community Centre, representatives of the Lower Ormeau Concerned Community from Belfast addressed those present.

The GRRG immediately set about its task which it saw as threefold;

(a): to organise a community-based opposition to the provocative and sectarian marches by the Orange Order through the heart of the overwhelmingly Catholic/Nationalist Garvaghy Road area;
(b): to use whatever political influence available in order to have these marches rerouted;
(c): in the event of the marches not being rerouted, to organise peaceful community-based protests against the marches on Sunday July 9 and Tuesday July 12.

In pursuit of these aims, the GRRG requested meetings with the Orange Order and with the RUC. Over 1,200 signatures were gathered for a petition which called for the marches to be rerouted.

Despite several direct requests to the Order, and the use of intermediaries, no response was ever forthcoming from the Portadown Orange District.

Meetings with local RUC chiefs throughout May, June and the first week of July were unsatisfactory. It became quite apparent that the RUC did not have a consistent policy on the issue of parades, or on the interpretation of the existing Public Order legislation and its application. Indeed, the RUC made it clear that the matter was one for the Secretary of State. A request by the GRRG to have a direct meeting with the RUC Chief Constable met with refusal.

The Residents' Group also wrote to the Secretary of State, Patrick Mayhew, asking him to use the powers available to him to prevent any Orange marches taking place along the Garvaghy Road. The response came from an official of the Security Policy and Operations Branch of the NCO who wrote,

"Decisions on the routing of parades are an operational matter for the RUC."

This reply totally ignored the powers available to the Secretary of State under the Public Order legislation, and conveniently disregarded the precedents set by Douglas Hurd in banning Orange parades from Obins Street a decade earlier.

Having failed to receive any assurances that the marches would be rerouted, the GRRG filed the statutory seven days notice with the RUC of their intention to organise a protest march from the Garvaghy Road to Carleton Street Orange Hall on the morning of Sunday 9th July.

The RUC then asked for two meetings with the Group on Tuesday 4th and Friday 7th at which the RUC requested that the residents reconsider both the timing and manner of their protest. It was pointed out to the RUC that public meetings of residents had fully endorsed the protest and that the RUC had offered no legitimate reason why the protest could not go ahead as planned.

RUC officers removed all the local Nationalist symbols from the Garvaghy Road area on the Thursday night before the Drumcree Parade. Over two dozen Irish tricolours which had been flying from poles along the road for several months were removed. The act was viewed as a provocative action that undermined the work of community leaders to halt the riots that had become almost as traditional as the marching season.

A sinister development emerged that same week as the Mid-Ulster Brigade of the UVF issued a statement, published in two local newspapers, saying they would be "closely monitoring the controversial parades in the area."

This loyalist terror gang had been responsible for the murders of well over 100 Catholic men, women and children in the Mid-Ulster area since 1972. A leading Portadown loyalist figure, known locally as "King Rat", (the now desceased Billy Wright) was believed to have been implicated in many of these murders. The statement was seen as a deliberate attempt to intimidate and frighten Nationalists from participating in the protests against the Orange marches.

As the date of the Drumcree parade approached, it was becoming clear that many people recognised and supported the validity of the GRRG's stance. John Hume, the leader of the SDLP, and Gerry Adams, President of Sinn Fein, both publicly gave their support, as did other leading politicians. The Catholic Primate of All-Ireland, Cardinal Cathal Daly, also issued a message saying that he applauded the GRRG attempts to achieve a peaceful and permanent resolution of the parades issue in Portadown.

On Sunday morning, July 9, it became clear that the community's desire for a peaceful opposition to the Orange marches was being heeded. For the first time in over twenty years, there had been no rioting in the Nationalist areas on the night before a march.

At around 9.50 am., the residents' protest march made its' way from the junction of the Garvaghy and Ashgrove Roads towards the town centre. It was halted shortly after 10.00 am, several hundred yards further along the Garvaghy Road by the RUC, who had closed the roadway with armoured landrovers behind which were dozens of RUC personnel in riot gear. A notice was handed to the organisers of the protest informing them that they were banned from proceeding beyond the junction of Garvaghy Road and Castle Avenue at any time that day by the RUC Deputy Divisional Commander, Supt. James Blair. In front of the assembled media, Mr. Blair was asked by the residents' spokesperson if the same legislation would be used to prevent the Orange march from proceeding along the Garvaghy Road later that day. He refused to answer.

The protesters then made their way back to the junction of the Garvaghy and Ashgrove Roads where they then remained at both sides of the road. As time went by the numbers of those taking part in the residents protest increased. From midday onwards RUC vehicles approached the protesters, and senior RUC officers, including Assistant Chief Constable Hall, asked the organisers what their intentions were and if they intended to block the road. The RUC were told that depended on whether the Orange march would be allowed down the Garvaghy Road, or whether the RUC would attempt to restrict the movement of local people to their homes and streets. Just before 12.30, the protest organisers were asked by the RUC to inform residents that landrovers would be advancing towards them but would stop about 50 yards away. The organisers then called everyone together to inform them of what was about to happen, and not to panic. They informed them that they should all move back towards the footpaths again. Immediately afterwards, Chief Superintendent McCreesh told the organisers that the residents had broken the law by blocking the road and were liable to prosecution, even though McCreesh knew that the organisers were relaying ACC Hall's message. This was clearly a deliberate attempt by the RUC to artificially manufacture a public order situation. The response of the residents was unanimous - if they were going to be accused falsely of blocking the road, there was only one legitimate response, whereupon several hundred people moved out from the footpaths and promptly sat down on the roadway. RUC landrovers then took up position on either side of the sit-down protest and the residents anxiously awaited the next move, knowing as they did that the return parade from Drumcree would be due to commence shortly after 1.00 pm.

At Drumcree the RUC told the Orangemen their march along the Garvaghy Road would not be able to proceed as planned due to the Nationalist sit-down protest. The Portadown District Master then announced that the Orange Order would remain at Drumcree until such times as they could march the Garvaghy Road.

The situation remained that way for several hours. On the Garvaghy Road the protest had taken on a carnival-like appearance, with traditional musicians providing entertainment while local people contented themselves with snacks and sandwiches rather than leave the protest for the comfort of their own homes and their Sunday dinners. It was evident to all present that the protesters behaved with dignity and discipline. Those who know the area observed one very significant point: the protesters included most of the community activists. These were people who wanted a better future for all and invest their time and energy building this future.

At 4.45 pm, ACC Hall relayed a message to the Residents Group, via a Superintendent Blakely that the Orange march had been rerouted and would not be going back into town along the Garvaghy Road. Members of the GRRG then addressed the Nationalist protesters who by then numbered around 700. Urging them to support the next protest on July 12, the residents were then asked to disperse peacefully and not to go near any possible flashpoint areas.

Less than a mile away, the atmosphere was a complete contrast. Harold Gracey, the Portadown District Master, had issued a call for Orangemen across the North to show their solidarity by blocking their own towns and villages. As Gracey made this announcement, the notorious Portadown Loyalist, Billy Wright, was already organising a blockade in Charles Street close to many Catholic homes. The local Unionist M.P., David Trimble, also read out a statement which called for "all Orange brethren to muster at the church". Throughout the afternoon and evening, sporadic violence erupted at Drumcree as Orangemen and their supporters vented their anger, and attempted to break through towards the nearby Nationalist Ballyoran Park estate. The arrival of Ian Paisley brought the announcement of a massed rally of Orangemen to be held on Monday night.

In the meantime, Orangemen and their supporters seized control of all roads around Portadown and effectively put the town's Catholic/Nationalist community under siege, and prevented access to or exit from the Nationalist area. Catholic families living along Charles St. and the Dungannon Road were particularly isolated and vulnerable during the following days and nights. As thousands of Orangemen commenced illegal parades past their homes to and from Drumcree while the RUC looked on and did not interfere. The vulnerability of these Catholic families was graphically demonstrated when a Catholic family of four were burned out of their home in Corcrain that night.

By 10.00 pm, several thousand Orangemen and their supporters had assembled at Drumcree but when darkness fell only a few hundred remained and even less stayed during the night. Although the Orangemen numbered less than 150 during the night the RUC did not attempt to remove them.

On Monday it was clear that the Orange and Unionist leadership were not seeking a resolution of the issue. Instead they were gearing up for confrontation and were concentrating their energy in organising the massed rally planned for 7.30 pm that night, and organising protests throughout the Six Counties. Elsewhere Orangemen and their supporters, in response to Harold Gracey's call, were beginning to block roads across the North, and Larne Harbour was closed by Orangemen led by their local MP, Roy Beggs. Hundreds of holiday makers and lorry drivers were left stranded by the closure of the port which was estimated to have cost over £1,000,000 in lost revenue and damages. Similar protests took place in Belfast, Carrickfergus and other parts of the North.

The Secretary of State astounded many people that afternoon when he tried, Pontius Pilate-like, to wash his hands of the increasingly serious situation. When questioned outside Stormont about events in Portadown, Patrick Mayhem replied,

"It's not for me, I have no role in this at all. I'm certainly not going to act as an adjudicator or arbitrator or anything of that sort. That's quite unconstitutional". (BBC TV)

Given Mayhew's legal background, it is unbelievable that he did not know of the range of powers open to him under the current Public Order legislation which could well have helped prevent the whole situation from arising at all.

Mary Harney, TD, the leader of the Progressive Democrats in the Government of the Irish Republic, called on Unionist politicians to give "courageous and responsible leadership"

She said:

"Instead of aiding and abetting the unreasonable triumphalist and coat-trailing demands of Orangemen - to march through an area where they are not wanted - it is high time that Unionist politicians spelled out the new political realities of Northern Ireland for Orangemen." (Irish Independent)

An offer from the Garvaghy Road Residents Group seeking a meeting with the Orange Order in Portadown Town Hall that evening to discuss the Twelfth parade was rejected. Independent mediators were then asked to put the GRRG's proposals to the Order.

The massed rally which started at 8.30 pm and was attended by approximately 10,000 people, led to a major deterioration of the situation in Portadown. A series of speakers including several Unionist MP's addressed the rally. However violence erupted almost immediately following a speech by Ian Paisley when he urged his assembled audience to,

"Win this battle or all is lost,- it's a matter of life or death, freedom or slavery."

As the Irish News reported, "Minutes after those words were uttered, a frenzied mob of rioters began hurling stones, bottles or any other missiles available .... as hundreds of loyalists began streaming across the fields parallel with Drumcree Road."

Over 1,000 loyalists, many wearing Orange sashes and other regalia, broke through the RUC lines which offered only minimal resistance. Five members of an English Channel Four TV crew were the mob's first victims as the loyalists headed directly for nearby Catholic homes. At the same time, large crowds of Nationalists from Ballyoran and adjacent estates stood ready to defend their homes and families from the oncoming horde. The loyalists veered towards Ashley Close and Andre Heights launching a barrage of missiles at the houses and their terrified occupants before directing their attention towards the nearby St. John the Baptist Primary School. In Craigwell Avenue, beside which a Loyalist blockade had been in place from Sunday, almost all the Catholic families had no choice but to leave their homes after the RUC repositioned their landrovers and allowed loyalists access to the street. When confronted by residents of the street about this, the RUC officer in charge stated "my men are not prepared to protect the likes of you". (When questioned about the incident by a GRRG delegation the Chief Constable said they could not identify the officer involved). The residents of Craigwell Avenue. which is almost exclusively Catholic, had been subjected to over 24 hours of continuous intimidation by this time.

By 10.30 pm the general mood within the Nationalist community was reminiscent of 1969, with families genuinely afraid for their safety and preoccupied with the question of their safety. With the entire Nationalist area sealed off by Orangemen and their supporters, many wondered what terror the hours of darkness would bring. The Drumcree Centre was made available throughout the night for those who had left their homes.

At 12.30 am the mediators returned from their meeting with the Orangemen. It emerged that Ian Paisley and his son, along with David Trimble, were negotiating on behalf of the local Orangemen. It was also becoming clear from other sources that in order to end the riot at Drumcree, the RUC was also arranging a deal with Paisley and Trimble, which effectively excluded the residents, and which was going to allow a march to take place along the Garvaghy Road at 2.30 am.

The Garvaghy Road Residents Group told the mediators that they were not given a mandate to negotiate with politicians and asked that they act on GRRG's behalf mediating between the RUC, Portadown Orangemen and ourselves . The GRRG immediately prepared to organise another sit-down protest on the roadway to thwart the RUC/Unionist deal.

At around the same time reports were coming through to the GRRG meeting that a large crowd of loyalists. estimated to be between 800-1000 led by the figure known as "King Rat", had made their way from the town centre to Obins St./Park Road and the public park. Dozens more Catholic homes were now placed under threat, and open to attack at any time. RUC units which had been supposedly positioned in Woodhouse Street to pre-empt such a move had driven their vehicles into a car-park and let the loyalists pass unhindered.

Within an hour around 500 people had returned to the scene of Sunday's protest on the Garvaghy Road. Shortly before 3.00 am, a large force of RUC riot squads arrived to confront the Nationalist protesters. Under the glare of television spotlights, the RUC officer in charge was challenged to state why he intended to forcibly move peaceful Nationalists while those Orangemen who had caused mayhem around the town were still allowed the freedom to assemble at Drumcree and other points in Portadown. Having no answer for the question put to him by the residents spokesperson, and by the media, the RUC officer hastily withdrew and went into conference with several other senior officers. By 3.30 am the RUC riot squad had pulled back. Nevertheless, the area still remained tense.

Shortly after 5.00 am, negotiations recommenced directly between the GRRG and the RUC Divisional Commander Heuston and Superintendent Blair in the presence of the mediators. The mediators then went to the Orange Order. The two RUC Deputy Chief Constables, Ronnie Flanagan and Blair Wallace, took over negotiation for the RUC at 9.00 am. The outline of an negotiated settlement was emerging. During this part of the proceedings Flanagan responded positively to the mediators proposal that there would be no more parades on the Garvaghy Road without the consent of locals. The mediators informed the GRRG and many of the protesters of this statement.

As part of the final agreement, the independent mediators read out a statement to the media making public exactly what all parties had agreed to:

"Following difficult and protracted negotiations between representatives of the GRRG, officers of the RUC and representatives of the Portadown District of the Orange Order, an accommodation has been reached and operational police decisions have been made which we believe will bring this situation to a conclusion.
"This involves a form of procession along the Garvaghy Road by the Orange Order and symbolic peaceful protest marshalled to the footpath by the GRRG.
"It is now understood that tomorrow's parade will take an alternative route."

It was agreed that only local members of Portadown Orange District would parade without bands or banners. The protesters would move to the footpath on the approach of the Orangemen and allow them to pass. It was understood by all that no Orange march would take place on the Garvaghy Road on the Twelfth.

Nationalists recognised they had not achieved all they had hoped for. Nevertheless, they were willing to accept this fact and hope that a more permanent and satisfactory solution would result from their willingness to compromise. That hope was to be dashed much more quickly than anyone was to realise.

The agreed Orange march took place at 10.50 on Tuesday morning. However, as it passed by the Nationalist protesters, it was quite evident that the marchers included many Orangemen from other towns. Within minutes of the marchers leaving the Garvaghy Road, it soon emerged that the Orange and Unionist leadership were denying any agreement had been made. David Trimble, who along with Ian Paisley joined the marchers as they left the Garvaghy Road was the first to deny the existence of the agreement. Going one step further he triumphantly asserted,

"We're glad to be down our traditional route, as we expect to be again"

Speaking to a reporter from the Irish Times, Trimble asserted, "There was no compromise. We have come down our traditional route in normal fashion with our flags flying. "

The District Master also denied any compromise. Thousands of Orangemen and their supporters engaged in shameless displays of triumphalism from Shillington's Bridge right through the town as several bands joined in the march. In Carleton Street, Orangemen formed a guard of honour for Trimble and Paisley who then victoriously pranced, hands joined and held aloft, to the entrance of the Orange Hall.

Many political leaders and commentators condemned them for their actions, with the leader of the Alliance Party, John Alderdice, being particularly scathing of comments made by Ian Paisley.

In its editorial of July 12, The Irish News compared the willingness of the residents to compromise with,

"the triumphalism displayed by MP's David Trimble and Ian Paisley as they headed into Portadown to the familiar cries of 'No Surrender.'
"Mr. Trimble did his cause no good with a victory speech in which he danced over the feelings of his Garvaghy Road constituents who allowed the march to pass, and in which he threatened them with more of the same in the future."

The same day an Irish Times editorial slated:

"the way in which Mr. David Trimble MP greeted yesterday's compromise in Portadown. His face shining with boyish glee, he told the television cameras "We're glad to be down the traditional route, and we expect to be again". This would be pathetic cant from a schoolboy in a playground having stolen a few of the headmaster's apples. From a member of parliament, a university lecturer, a man who has ambition to lead, it was just one just one more example of the fatal attraction of the blind alley for a certain breed of unionist politician.
"Mr. Trimble knows as well as anyone that he is playing with fire..... Narrow political ambitions have ridden the wild horses of hatred and sectarianism to achieve their aims. Mr. Trimble knows better, but he chooses not to know."

On the 12th morning, District Master Harold Gracey announced that the Portadown lodges had decided not to march along the Garvaghy Road in order "not to cause any further hassle to their fellow citizens" - a frank if somewhat understated recognition of the reality of the situation. Nevertheless, Nationalists remained somewhat sceptical of this apparent overnight change of heart.

That scepticism proved well-founded when an Orange lodge, led by a band, approached the Garvaghy Road from the town centre and paraded around Woodside Green, a mixed but predominantly Catholic housing estate. Protestors then blocked the Garvaghy Road to prevent the Orangemen going any further. The Nationalists succeeded in turning the parade back towards the town, but serious questions were asked as to why the RUC had let the parade into the area in the first place.

Portadown Nationalists only asked a few simple questions - How could anyone expect them to trust any of these Orange and Unionist leaders again? Did the faith and trust which Nationalists had sought to build through accommodation mean so little that it was rewarded with denials and displays of sectarian triumphalism? The Orange order and the Unionist politicians were not interested in dialogue or accommodation.. Their behaviour after they got their march demonstrated this. This contrasted dramatically with the dignity, discipline and peaceful determination of the Garvaghy Residents. They well deserved the praise they received in the national and international press. They rightly expected to be treated with dignity and respect.

The behaviour of the Orange and Unionist leadership, coupled with the fact that the Catholic community had endured almost 48 hours of siege, terror and intimidation, enraged many local people. Any observer would realise that it would be extremely difficult for the Orange Order to win the consent of the residents of the Garvaghy Road area for some time to come.

To anyone who cared to notice in the aftermath of July 95, it was immediately obvious that a permanent solution to the issue of contentious and sectarian marches in Portadown and other similarly affected areas had to be found.

Even though the Nationalist community had been unnecessarily offended by the Orange Order and Unionist politicians they were the group that made the running in the autumn months. In an effort to prevent a repeat of the summers events, the Garvaghy Road Residents once more wrote to the Orange Order seeking a meeting around the beginning of September. Again no reply or acknowledgement was forthcoming from the Orange Order.

The Mediation Network was asked by the Residents to attempt to facilitate a meeting with the Orange Order in Portadown. Despite spending several months trying to arrange such a meeting, and spending long hours preparing the GRRC to meet the Orange Order, the Network came up against a brick wall of refusal from the Order.

Far from seeking to enter into a genuine dialogue with the Nationalist community, the Orange Order continued to revel in triumphalism after July. Medals were struck to commemorate the "Seige of Drumcree" and at a special ceremony in September, David Trimble, Ian Paisley, Harold Gracey, Jeffrey Donaldson and the Church of Ireland rector at Drumcree, Rev John Pickering, were awarded the first of these medals for their part in the "Seige." Referring to the misspelt medals, local people suggested that those who so vociferously demanded to walk the Queen's highway should at least have a grasp of the Queen's English.

September also saw David Trimble elected as leader of the Ulster Unionist Party. After his victory, Trimble was carried shoulder high from the building by two Portadown Orangemen, Alan Locke and Arnold Hatch. Both men were amongst the 12 unionist councillors on Craigavon Council who had been surcharged and barred from holding office in 1986 who were described by a High Court judge as having been "motivated by sectarian bias."

In the autumn, it was also decided that the committee should become known as the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition due to the fact the it included representatives of several groups based within the town's Catholic/Nationalist community; and also to reflect the widespread and varied support which it enjoyed.

Given the Orange Order's refusal to enter into dialogue with the Coalition, the residents then began to contact as many interested parties and individuals as possible to put forward their case for the rerouting of Orange parades away from the Garvaghy Road.

Meetings were held with leading members of the Alliance Party, Mo Mowlam of the British Labour Party and with Sinn Fein, amongst others.

David Trimble, the local Unionist Member of Parliament in whose constituency the Garvaghy Road lies and leader of the Unionist Party was contacted by the Residents. Three letters were sent to Trimble from November onwards which the Unionist leader completely ignored. In the first of those letters, sent at the end of November, the residents wrote,

"Our group, which broadly represents a substantial number of your constituents, would like to meet with you to discuss some way of resolving the whole issue of Orange parades along the Garvaghy Road. We feel that what happened last July demonstrates the need for discussion on this issue in order to prevent a repeat of this years crisis...
"As a group mandated by the community living in and around the Garvaghy Road, we feel there is a need for you to hear the viewpoint of this community and to clarify a number of misconceptions concerning the motivation and composition of our group, the extent of local support for our campaign, and our commitment to exclusively peaceful means and our willingness to enter into genuine dialogue."

When no reply was forthcoming, a second letter was sent on January 17 1996 which added that the residents felt there is a certain urgency about a meeting with the local Member of Parliament.

With still no response, a similar letter was sent the following month as well, but to no avail.

The Secretary of State was also asked at the same time to meet the residents. Sir Patrick Mayhew's willingness to address meetings of the Orange Order in Comber, County Down, and other places, was to be in stark contrast to the response sent by his office to the Residents Coalition. Far from wishing to address the fears or hear the viewpoint of Portadown's Catholic/ Nationalist community, Mayhew stated that, in his opinion, a meeting with the residents "would serve no useful purpose at this time."

Considering what had already occurred that July, and the genuine fears which the local Catholic community harboured for the following year, Mayhew's response could only be described as extremely irresponsible and offensive.

The RUC meanwhile had cautioned a number of people who had taken part in the peaceful protests against the Orange marches and had said that prosecutions were pending. The Residents Coalition issued a statement asking if all those who had taken part in the illegal parades and assemblies at Drumcree and other places had also been cautioned. It was pointed out by the Residents that Ian Paisley had made a speech which had caused over 1,000 Orangemen to riot, while David Trimble and Harold Gracey, as well as several other prominent Unionist/Orange leaders, had been encouraging people to assemble at Drumcree in defiance of the law. The Coalition stated that if the law was to be seen to be applied impartially, then Trimble, Paisley, Gracey and others should also be prosecuted. No such prosecutions of these leaders took place.

In January, a delegation of the Residents Coalition met with leading members of the Presbyterian Church at Church House in Belfast. This exchange of views with the Presbyterians, who included four former Moderators of the Church, was felt to have been very constructive.

In the same month a similar delegation of residents met the RUC Chief Constable, Sir Hugh Annesley, Deputy Chief Constable Blair Wallace, Assistant Chief Constable Fred Hall along with "J" Divisional Commander, Terence Heuston. The RUC chiefs were questioned on their apparent inability to police the situation in Portadown the previous July, and the failure to prevent thousands of Orangemen from outside the area from coming to Portadown. The Chief Constable was asked directly what action, if any, had been taken against the officer in charge at Craigwell Avenue on Monday July 10, when the RUC had refused to protect Catholic families living there. While Annesley replied that an investigation had been unable to identify the officer in question (who was of at least the rank of Inspector), he did not deny that the incident had in fact taken place.

The RUC Chief Constable in response to another question from the residents' representatives accepted that the overwhelming majority of people living in the Garvaghy Road area were opposed to the Orange parades. He also accepted that the GRRC represented the views of the residents.

However, CC Annesley went on to suggest that there was no guarantee that the events which had taken place in Portadown with regard to the Orange parade and subsequent demonstrations in '95 would not happen again. When the residents asked if the RUC was prepared to stand by the statement which DCC Flanagan had told the mediators the previous July (that no parades would take place without the consent of the residents), they were met with silence. The Chief Constable said that the primary responsibility was with the two disputing parties and he felt the onus was on the GRRC to resolve the issue. He accepted that the they had made every effort to meet with the Portadown Orange representatives and if they failed to act on their responsibility then this would have to be taken into consideration.

In answer to their written request, the Church of Ireland Primate, Archbishop Robin Eames, agreed to meet a delegation of residents' representatives. The meeting in Armagh appeared to be the most positive one to date, with the Archbishop telling the delegation that he was hopeful of being able to arrange a meeting between the residents and the Orange Order. He also intimated his belief that he would be able to bring the Unionist political parties, as well as the loyalist paramilitaries on board. Nevertheless, at Easter, Eames was to inform the residents that his attempts to facilitate a meeting had ended in failure.

A meeting was also held between the residents and the SDLP's Brid Rodgers and Mark Durkan.

In May and June, public meetings were held in the Garvaghy Road area at which there was unanimous support given to the Residents Coalition, and universal calls were made for the rerouting of the forthcoming parades. A meeting was also held with the Portadown RUC commander.

Also at the end of May, representatives of the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition met with Deputy Chief Constable Flanagan and Assistant Chief Constable Hall. Flanagan denied having made any statement the previous year to the mediators concerning future parades along the Garvaghy Road. However, he said that, unlike in other years, a decision would be announced as to whether or not the Drumcree parade could go ahead several days beforehand. The residents again reiterated the opposition of their community to any such parades by the Orange Order along the Garvaghy Road. They told Flanagan and Hall that it was their intention to use whatever peaceful and legal means they could to prevent the parade going ahead against the stated wishes of Portadown's Catholic/Nationalist community. The residents representatives also clearly informed the two senior RUC officers that any protests organised by the GRRC would be wholly confined to local people.

June saw the beginning of prosecutions against Nationalists for their part in the anti-parade protests of the previous July. Five people were due to appear in court on charges of hindering the free flow of traffic. Only one case went ahead while the rest were adjourned for another several months.

The two day hearing against the chairperson of the Residents Coalition, Breandan Mac Cionnaith, was eventually thrown out by the magistrate. The magistrate criticised the Crown Prosecution for having brought the case in the first place, stating at one juncture "I have not seen anything at all that would remotely approximate to support this charge". He went on to describe evidence given by several RUC witnesses as being "flimsy and nebulous. " During the course of the proceedings, the main RUC witness, Superintendent James Blair, was shown to have produced false and manufactured documentary evidence while under oath.

The GRRC, meanwhile, had engaged legal counsel in order to institute High Court action to prevent the Orange march from proceeding, and a number of various legal challenges were planned by the lawyers.

At the invitation of Craigavon Community and Police Liaison Committee, the Residents' Coalition addressed that body, putting forward their case for the rerouting of the Orange marches. A similar invitation was also issued to the Orange Order but they refused to attend.

On June 27, less than a fortnight before the planned Orange march was due to take place, the GRRC called another public meeting in Ashgrove Community Centre. Aware of the false allegations being made by Unionists and Orangemen that the GRRC was only a republican front, representatives of various political parties and other observers were invited to attend. Those who accepted the invitation were Tom French (Workers Party), Dr. William Ramsey (Alliance Party), Brid Rodgers (SDLP), Pat McGeown (Sinn Fein), and Fr. Raymond Murray. An official of the Irish Government observed the proceedings. The GRRC's legal advisors were also present. Over 800 people attended the meeting, many of whom were unable to get into the actual centre. Those present unanimously voted in favour of holding peaceful protests in the event of the authorities deciding to allow the contentious parade to go ahead.

It was proposed and carried that the protests should commence from Thursday July 4th onwards. The meeting also decided that a community festival would be organised for the Garvaghy Road on Sunday July 7th and that a protest march would take place that same morning. The RUC were subsequently given the statutory notification concerning these activities. It also became obvious during the course of the public meeting that a substantial number of people were also opposed to the route taken by the Orange Order on their way to Drumcree. However, the majority of those present accepted that if the Orange Order were to voluntarily reroute from the Garvaghy Road, the Charles St./Dungannon Road route would not be questioned.

On Wednesday July 3, the GRRC held a meeting with DCC Flanagan and ACC Hall in Belfast. The meeting lasted for less than an hour, during which time the Deputy Chief Constable attempted to instill fear in the GRRC delegation. For most of the meeting, Flanagan tried to paint a bleak scenario of what would happen should the Orange march be rerouted. He made it known that the Orange Order had an organised plan ready to put into operation if the march did not get going down the Garvaghy Road. The residents asked what the RUC decision was to be but he refused to answer, saying it would be announced within the next 48 hours. The residents told Flanagan that they were also aware of the Orangemen's plans, and that the threat of force had been used before in Portadown by the Order. They expressed disappointment that the Orangemen had not negotiated with them and had forfeited any right to parade.

On Thursday July 4, around 500 people took part in the first of the series of protests on the Garvaghy Road against the Orange march due on the 7th. The protest, which took the form of a roadside picket, stretched for half a mile along the road, and was video-taped by the RUC. Following the hour long protest those taking part in the protest were addressed by a speaker from the GRRC.

On Friday morning, the world media gathered at RUC Headquarters to hear the decision concerning Sunday's Orange march. They were disappointed. The RUC said that the announcement was delayed until the following day as "negotiations" were ongoing. This came as a surprise to the Residents Coalition who issued a statement asking who was negotiating with who, as they had not had any contact with the RUC, or anyone else, since Wednesday.

On Friday afternoon. the residents commenced their legal bid in the High Court to force the Secretary of State to use the powers available to him to ban the march. The judge hearing the case adjourned until Saturday, pending the outcome of the RUC announcement. Many of the Northern Ireland Office's most senior officials were present for the hearing and, unusually for a Friday afternoon, three Appeal Court Judges were on stand-by.

That evening the second protest was held on the Garvaghy Road. The crowd was larger than the night before, with somewhere in the region of 800 people taking part.

That night, the Residents Coalition received a set of proposals from Archbishop Robin Eames, suggesting that a meeting with the Orange Order take place on Saturday morning. The Coalition viewed Dr. Eames' proposals as very unhelpful and biased against them, given the addendum that in his view

"a march along the Garvaghy Road would form a necessary part of any agreement."

Eames' proposed meeting never took place as the Orange Order again refused to enter into any form of dialogue with the Residents' Coalition.

On Saturday morning, the residents returned to the High Court in Belfast to resume the adjourned legal action. Again, many senior NIO officials were present, and once more, three Appeal Court judges had been put on stand-by by the Government should the High Court have ruled in favour of the residents.

At the same time, the RUC Chief Constable, Hugh Annesley, held his delayed press conference. In announcing the rerouting of the Drumcree march away from Garvaghy, Annesley told the press that there was a perfectly acceptable and viable alternative route available to the Orange Order - an argument Nationalists in Portadown had been making for years.

Given this decision, the Residents' legal action did not now go ahead, and a statement was issued by them saying that all activities planned by the GRRC were now cancelled. The statement called on people to remain calm in the difficult days ahead and expressed concern for the safety of people living in possible flashpoint areas.

The Grand Master of the Orange Order, Martin Smyth MP, condemned the RUC decision and in a strange twist to the history of the situation in Portadown said;

"It is actually bowing to an element who have orchestrated the last two years this protest, whereas in previous years, it had gone without any problem."(Sunday Life July 7)

Smyth's statement was part of a concerted propaganda campaign being waged by the Orange Order to try an convince the media and public opinion that Orange marches had never caused controversy before in Portadown.

Ian Paisley, ignoring all the efforts made by the residents throughout the year and the fact that the GRRC had only ever engaged in peaceful protests and legal challenges, went even further:

"When a country is run by threats and when the authorities give in to threats, then there is no law and order." (Sunday Life July 7)

Given what was about to happen over the next week, Paisley's words were to have a prophetic ring about them, albeit in a different context.

The Mid-Ulster UVF issued a grimly worded statement which hinted at its intention to use force -

"There is a feeling on the ground that we have reached the point of no return." (Sunday Life July 7)

Ominously, in the light of the UVF statement, the Sunday World carried a report saying it,

"... had learned that contingency plans are already in place to carry out a terrorist attack against Catholics."

Throughout the night of Saturday July 6th 1996, over 2,000 British troops and RUC men were deployed in Portadown. The GAA field at Ballyoran and St. John the Baptist primary school on the Garvaghy Road were turned into military installations. A number of RUC landrovers were lined across the road at Drumcree. Behind them were more RUC landrovers with British Army armoured personnel carriers as further back-up. Overnight, the Nationalist areas had taken on the appearance of a war-zone.

Declan Bree TD, Joe Costello TD, Eamon Úi Chaoibh TD and Senator Sean Maloney arrived in town at the request of the GRRC to act as observers.

On Sunday morning, larger than usual numbers of Orangemen took part in the Orange march to Drumcree, with the local MP, David Trimble, at its' head. Hundreds of hangers-on were allowed by the RUC to accompany the march past Catholic homes at Craigwell Avenue, Charles St. and the Dungannon Road. As the last of the marchers passed through Charles St., their supporters completely blockaded the road. A BBC camera crew and a press photographer were attacked.

Following the church service, the Orangemen paraded towards the RUC lines and then returned to outside the Church where their leaders addressed them. Harold Gracey told the Orangemen that, in a few hours, they would see the protests happening throughout the North. One reporter was later to state that Gracey was seen "in conversation" several times during Sunday with Billy Wright.

Orange Grand Master, the Rev Martin Smith told the assembled throng -

"Drumcree is not isolated. If you think you can isolate it you have made a grave mistake. There can be no compromise."

Ian Paisley was in his usual blood curdling form when he arrived in the afternoon -

"We are fighting for the promise of the life to come, and that's worth fighting for and that's worth dying for."

As thousands more Orangemen and supporters began to pour into Drumcree and throughout the day, sporadic violence erupted.

Across the Six Counties, roads were blocked in Belfast, Larne, Ballymena, Tobermore, Markethill, Moira, Dervock, Dromore, Bangor, Newtownards, Ballymena and several other areas, The RUC made little or no attempts to intervene.

Orangemen and their supporters seized control of all roads around Portadown and the town's Catholic/Nationalist community was effectively left isolated. International observers later stated Orangemen and their supporters were mounting roadblocks around the town and controlling all access to traffic.

As night fell, Orangemen and their supporters made several violent and unsuccessful attempts to break through the barbed wire entanglements at Drumcree.

A Catholic taxi-driver was murdered during the hours of darkness by loyalist paramilitary elements, widely believed to be members of the Mid-Ulster UVF. The body of 31 year old Michael McGoldrick from Lurgan, the father of a seven year old girl and whose wife was expecting their second child, was not discovered until Monday morning. The dead man's parents said that "fire and brimstone" speeches by politicians had caused their son's death.

Only a few hundred Orangemen remained at Drumcree. Almost all shops and businesses in Portadown were forced to close on Monday following threats from Loyalist paramilitaries. All roads into town remained closed and many vehicles were hijacked and burned by "peaceful" Orange protesters. In Ballymena, over £1,000,000 in damages was caused by rioting loyalists and the main Portadown-Dublin railway line was blocked at Poyntzpass. Armagh City was added to the list of blockaded towns. Main roads across the North, including the MI, M2 and the main Belfast-Dublin road were blocked. Unionist politicians, leading Orange figures and members of the business community were identified as having participated in the illegal blockades. In Belfast, Catholic families were forced out of their homes in the Oldpark area. Larne Harbour and Belfast International Airport are blockaded and the funeral cortege of a woman who died in Wolverhampton was prevented from leaving the airport.

In contrast to their inaction against the illegal blockades by the Orange Order which were bringing the North to a standstill, the RUC batoned Nationalists protesting against an Orange parade in Bellaghy.

Nationalists in Portadown were expressing their concern at the apparent freedom of movement being enjoyed by Orangemen. No attempts were made by the RUC or British Army to prevent Orangemen marching out to Drumcree from the town centre. Catholics living in Craigwell Avenue, Charles St. and along the Dungannon Road were the targets of constant abuse by these marchers.

Several thousand Orangemen and supporters again gathered at Drumcree that evening, and once more there were sporadic outbreaks of violence.

The Rev. Martin Smyth, MP and Grand Master of the Orange Order, commenced a campaign aimed at demonising the main spokesperson for the Garvaghy Residents. As a result of these personal attacks and before the week was over, the residents' spokesperson was to become the focus of intense loyalist hatred and the recipient of several paramilitary death threats.

Many people hoped that someone within the Unionist community would raise a voice of opposition to what was being carried out in their name. Only silence was heard as the powerful Orange card ensured everyone toed the line. Unionists politicians of all shades made clear their support for the Orange Order while ignoring the lawlessness taking place all around them.

As darkness fell, Orangemen used a powerful public address system continually during the night to prevent residents in the Nationalist areas from sleeping in a not-so-subtle attempt at psychological warfare.

On Tuesday morning the GRRC received a telephone call from Peter Smyth of the Northern Ireland Office. The NIO were seeking a private, off-the record meeting. Conscious of the fact that the Secretary of State had refused the Coalition's earlier request for a meeting on the grounds that "it would serve no useful purpose", and wary that the NIO might later deny the meeting, the GRRC asked Smyth to put the request in writing. The NIO then faxed a letter through which was signed by J. M. Steele. Steele's letter said the purpose of the discussions would be to get a first-hand impression of the feelings of the local community at this particularly tense period; and to explore what, if any, room for manoeuvre the association sees as existing now or in the future."

The Residents Coalition met and discussed Smyth's letter and agreed to a meeting. They sent a reply to the NIO setting out points for discussion, including the rerouting and the feelings of the local community.

The Coalition's response also pointed out that any Orange march down the Garvaghy Road that year was "currently viewed as totally unacceptable and not open to discussion."

That morning's edition of the Guardian newspaper carried a photograph, taken in Portadown within hours of the murder of Michael McGoldrick, of a Loyalist paramilitary armed with an AK47 assault rifle. A message faxed to the GRRC office, in a chilling and ominous reference to the McGoldrick murder stated quite simply -

"1 DEAD, 5,999 MORE TO GO"

Right across the North, Orangemen and their supporters continued with their blockades. Reports were being received by the media that many of these blockades were taking place with the apparent collusion of the RUC in many places. By now, Orange and Unionist leaders were threatening to bring every Orangemen in the North to Portadown for the Twelfth.

Many hundreds of messages pledging solidarity and support for the beleaguered Nationalist community were now arriving from throughout all the 32 Counties, Britain, USA, Canada, Italy, France, Germany, and even as far away as Australia and New Zealand. Human rights groups and activists; ordinary men, women and children; tenants and community groups; political parties. All stating a simple message - that despite the Orange Order's attempts to blockade and physically intimidate the Nationalist community in Portadown, vulnerable though it was, that community was far from isolated.

A near riot situation was prevented in the afternoon on the Garvaghy Road by members of the Residents Coalition. Superintendent Blair and a number of other RUC officers were seen meeting there with Trimble, Gracey and another Orangeman in full view of the local people. This angered many residents who had now been living under siege for 48 hours. When members of the GRRC arrived on the scene, Trimble and company immediately left the area by car. When the Blair was challenged by committee members as to whether he was deliberately trying to provoke a riot by meeting with Trimble and the others in the Nationalist area, Blair angrily responded that "there is no such thing as a Nationalist area in this town."

Numbers of Orangemen at Drumcree again remained fairly small during the day, prompting many to ask why no effort was being made to remove them. In Derry the Unionist Mayor of the city took part in a blockade of Craigavon Bridge. That evening also saw a repetition of the previous nights marches from the town out to Drumcree by several thousands of Orangemen and bands. Fleets of buses ferried the marchers in from various parts of the North. The, by now, familiar sectarian chant of "we're going to burn Garvaghy, we're going to burn Garvaghy" was heard clearly across the fields in the nearby Catholic estates, where tension was already high. At one stage, when the Orange mob threatened to burst through RUC lines, a small number of plastic bullets were fired.

David Trimble and Ian Paisley flew to London where they held talks with the British Prime Minister that evening.

Around the same time, Breandan Mac Cionnaith of the Residents Coalition received a request from the Church of Ireland Primate, Archbishop Robin Eames, for a meeting on Wednesday morning in Armagh to discuss what Archbishop Eames termed "the current dilemma". The Coalition met and discussed Archbishop Eames' offer of a meeting. It was agreed that Mac Cionnaith should go and hear what Archbishop Eames had to say.

The Orange Order maintained the psychological warfare with their P.A. system throughout the night, with tape recordings of loyalist music and speeches constantly being played.

A meeting between Mac Cionnaith and Archbishop Eames took place at 9.15 am and lasted for around 30 minutes. Archbishop Eames expressed his concern at the deteriorating situation in the North, and asked was there any way out of the dilemma.

Mac Cionnaith said that he was only too well aware of the situation as his community, in Portadown was bearing the brunt of the Orange intimidation. He pointed out that it was the Orange Order and Unionist politicians who had created the situation , not the Nationalist community. So therefore any onus must be on those same people to solve it. Mac Cionnaith also reminded Archbishop Eames that the Residents Coalition had been trying for over a year to enter into dialogue with the Orange Order on the parades issue without any response.

Archbishop Eames then said he might still be able to arrange a meeting with the Orange Order, but nothing definite was agreed on, as Archbishop Eames suggested some elements within the Orange Order were forming a stumbling block.

Mac Cionnaith and the others returned to Portadown. On both journeys, the residents were stopped by the RUC. At 11. 10 am, a residents' delegation consisting of Breandan Mac Cionnaith, Eamon Stack, Joe Duffy and Laura Boyle met the Northern Ireland Office officials in the local community centre. Present for the NIO were John Steele, Peter Smyth and Ms. McGimpsey. The NIO asked that the meeting be kept confidential but the GRRC delegation insisted that they have freedom to publish details of the meeting if they judged it to be of benefit the residents of the area. The following summary of that meeting is based on the NIO's own records:

The NIO stated that, for the Government, the meeting was a listening exercise with a group recognised as representing the Garvaghy Road residents. While acknowledging the sensitivities of local Nationalists, in view of the deteriorating across Northern Ireland, it would be in everyone's interests if some accommodation could be reached to end the impasse.

The GRRC emphasised that the Nationalist community in Garvaghy Road was unanimously against Orange marches, and that last year's compromise had been based on an understanding that no further parades would take place along the Garvaghy Road, and the RUC at present were merely enforcing that commitment. The intimidation of local Nationalist families was a yearly ritual which had to be halted.

The NIO stated that the situation was recognised even by the leaders of the Orange Order as having the potential for disaster- they needed help in finding a way out.

The GRRC responded by saying that alternative routes had been suggested to the Orange Order. The compromise brokered last year had been exploited by the Order and by Unionist politicians, and was not repeatable. The present situation was not of the GRRC's making, and it was up to the Orange Order to extricate itself from the untenable position it had created by its own actions.

The NIO suggested that the Orange Order leadership had little room for manoeuvre in current circumstances. If a compromise solution involving Orange feet on the Garvaghy Road could be agreed, the role of the GRRC would be recognised and valued by the Government. In addition, the Government would institute a fully independent review of the marching phenomenon, not just in Portadown but in Northern Ireland as a whole.

The GRRC responded by saying it was ironic that it had taken the Government almost a year to recognise the value of the 1995 gesture. The idea of an official inquiry had been around for years, and there was no reason - despite the NIO side's personal assurances - that the latest offer would be any more effective. There would be implacable opposition from the Nationalist community to any compromise to any Orange presence on the Garvaghy Road. The residents also pointed out to the NIO that any possible solutions would have to discussed by the whole committee and publicly endorsed by the local community.

When the full Residents Coalition committee met later, the consensus was that the NIO had offered nothing of substance to the local community. A response to that effect was then sent to the NIO. Indeed, it was the feeling of the GRRC delegates who had been at the earlier meeting that the NIO, and by implication, the British Government, clearly were in favour of an Orange march going ahead. Also becoming clear was the fact that a diplomatic offensive was being launched against the Residents Coalition in order to achieve their community's surrender to the demands of the Orange Order.

Furthermore, the fact is undeniable that this meeting took place with NCO officials acting for the Government. The NIO record clearly shows that statements made by Mayhem and John Major saying the Government was not in any way involved with the decision making over Drumcree were completely untrue.

It is most likely that the decision to force the Orangemen down the Garvaghy Road was made at Government level in the immediate aftermath of this meeting.

Meanwhile at Drumcree, Orangemen had produced a mechanical digger. This digger was driven in and out of Drumcree on three separate occasions. At no time did the RUC or British Army attempt to stop or seize the machine on its' journeys in or out of the area. At its second appearance, steel sheeting had been placed around the cab. The British Army then responded by bringing up their own 20-ton bulldozer which was supported by a 10-ton truck. Still no attempt was made to seize the digger. Nationalists in Portadown wryly remembered back to the 1970's when a similar machine had been commandeered in Obins Street. The British Army and RUC had found no difficulty in retrieving that machine - but then that digger had been commandeered by Nationalists.

Orangemen at Drumcree cheered loudly in response to an announcement over the P.A. system that two companies of the Royal Irish Regiment, based at Mahon Road Barracks in Portadown, had refused to leave the barracks for duty that afternoon.

David Trimble met the leaders of the four main Churches that same afternoon, including Cardinal Daly who had only arrived back from Austria a few hours before. After the meeting, the Church leaders then drew up a set of proposals to put to all sides. Cardinal Daly did not recommend that the GRRC accept the proposals.

Also that evening, British Labour Party spokesperson, Mo Mowlam M.P., flew into the North and met the Residents Coalition. The residents expressed their concerns to her and she promised to highlight the issue.

At shortly after 5.00 pm Archbishop Eames phoned Breandan Mac Cionnaith asking him to nominate three people to meet the Orange Order. Dr. Eames was putting himself forward as chair of any such meeting. The Archbishop was informed that only the entire GRRC committee could decide who would be their representatives at any proposed meeting. At around 7.00 pm, when the Coalition was having its own meeting, Dr. Eames phoned again saying he needed the three names rather urgently. Mac Cionnaith responded by asking him for a set of proposals which would be discussed at the meeting before any delegates could be decided upon.

Later that evening, Cardinal Daly met the Residents Coalition at 8.00 pm in Churchill Park, Portadown. During the course of this meeting, a fax arrived from Dr. Eames outlining several proposals. When Cardinal Daly read the fax, he informed the residents that these proposals were not what the other three Church leaders had agreed to earlier in the day. He indicated that the Orange Order were offering nothing that would leave the Catholic residents with their dignity intact. The Cardinal voiced his support for the alternative route put forward by the GRRC. Dr. Eames was losing the confidence of the GRRC as he seemed too biased in his mediation. Nevertheless, the residents responded to Archbishop Eames' fax by sending him their own proposals.

The Residents' Coalition stated that they would be willing to participate in a meeting with the Orange Order, provided that such a meeting be confined to only members of Portadown District, and be co-chaired by Cardinal Daly and Archbishop Eames. They then proposed two main items for an agenda:

Discussion and agreement on the issue of parity of esteem and the principle of consent to be accepted by the Orange Order in relation to all future marches.
Only in the event of agreement on these issues, would the Residents Coalition be willing to discuss what Archbishop Eames had described as "the current dilemma".

The Coalition also made clear the local community would have to be consulted regarding any proposed agreement concerning marches, and that any such agreement would have to be endorsed and accepted by the community.

There was then a lot of to-ing and fro-ing as Archbishop Eames then tried to set a time for the meeting. It was eventually agreed that the meeting would take place in the offices of the Ulster Carpet Mills at 9.00 am the following day.

However, it would soon become apparent that another train of events was in motion elsewhere that effectively was to make this meeting redundant.

Shortly after the appearance of the RUC's Deputy Chief Constable, Ronnie Flanagan. At Drumcree that night, Harold Gracey and Ian Paisley addressed the crowds of Orangemen assembled there. Both men were extremely confident that the Orange Order would be marching along the Garvaghy Road, and said that the Portadown Orangemen would be in Tandragee, 5 miles away, for the main July 12th rally. Around the same time, many of the RUC and British Army vehicles which, up until then, had been facing the Orangemen, were being redeployed during the hours of darkness to face towards the Catholic/Nationalist enclave.

It was to emerge later that, during the night, a number of journalists were told by prominent Unionist and Orange figures that the Orange march was to be allowed to proceed into town along the Garvaghy Road.

David Trimble held a secret meeting with leading Mid-Ulster Loyalist, Billy Wright, in an upstairs room of Drumcree Church Hall. The meeting would, in all probability, have remained secret but for the presence in the hall of the BBC's Peter Taylor. Unfortunately, Taylor was not privy to that which the Unionist and the Loyalist had discussed. What is known is that David Trimble afterwards conveyed a paramilitary threat from the Mid-Ulster UVF to the British Secretary of State, Patrick Mayhew.

Early on Thursday morning, members of the GRRC arrived at their temporary headquarters in Churchill Park to prepare for the 9.00 am meeting at the Carpet Mills. From 7.00 am onwards they were continually bombarded with questions from media personnel regarding the front page report in that morning's edition of the Belfast News Letter. The paper's headlines carried a stark warning -

DRUMCREE DEAL AFTER LATE-NIGHT TALKS MARCHERS READY TO HIT ROAD TODAY

The Residents' Coalition issued a statement challenging the veracity of the report and said that no deal had been done which involved them. Other reporters and news crews awaited the three residents delegates as they entered the Ulster Carpet Mills before 9.00 am Despite the fact that this residents was to have remained confidential, it was obvious the media had been tipped off. One television journalist said that his informant had been a Protestant clergyman, but refused to name him.

The three residents delegates, Breandan Mac Cionnaith, Joanna Termyson and Eamon Stack entered the building at 9.00 am and were met by Archbishop Eames and Cardinal Daly. Dr. Eames ushered the three into a room on their own and said there would be a slight delay in starting.

Archbishop Eames came into the room about 9.30 am and explained that there would be a further delay as the format of the meeting and other arrangements were still to be finalised. He did not specify what these arrangements were, and left after a few moments, again leaving the three residents' delegates alone. He did not inform them of the presence of the leaders of the Methodist or Presbyterian Churches.

At around 10.20 am, Archbishop Eames returned. The time lag in actually commencing the meeting was beginning to arouse the residents' suspicions, particularly in view of the media reports that morning. He apologised for the delay but said that he now had the names of the three Orange delegates. The first was that of Denis Watson, the Grand Master for all of County Armagh and also a member of the Orange Order's ruling body, the Grand Lodge of Ireland. While Dr. Eames was able to give the other two names, he was unable to say where exactly they were from or who they were representing.

The Garvaghy delegates pointed out to Archbishop Eames that the meeting was supposed to be only with delegates of Portadown District. That was the position which had been agreed to the evening before. They put it to Archbishop Eames that if such a senior member of the Order was going to participate in the meeting, it was quite likely that it would be the Grand Lodge's intention to use any possible outcome or agreement in other areas which had contentious marches. As such it would only be correct that other effected communities, similar to the Garvaghy Road, should also be consulted with. It was either that option or else the Orange delegates should only be confined to solely those from Portadown. The Archbishop accepted what had been agreed to the previous evening. However, the Garvaghy delegates stated that it was not an insurmountable obstacle. Dr. Eames then left. He had been with the residents for just over five minutes.

The movement of a large number of British Army armoured personnel carriers past the building caused further concern, and the delegates contacted the other members of the Coalition to find out what was happening. They were told all was quiet, and nothing untoward appeared to going on. Nevertheless, they would report back using the extension number quoted to the delegates.

At approximately 10.40 am, two clergymen, one Catholic and the other Church of Ireland, who were assisting the four Church leaders entered the room. No further information was forthcoming regarding the other two Orange delegates, but it was hoped that the meeting would be soon under way. The Catholic clergyman also told the delegates that Archbishop Eames' personal secretary had made it known that "a security announcement" by the RUC Chief Constable was to be made within the next hour, but that nothing sinister should be taken from that.

Once more on their own, the delegates used the mobile phone to contact their colleagues and give them this information. Given the delay in the commencement of the meeting, it was the delegates' view that only one "security announcement" could be possibly made and that the rest of the Coalition members should start making this fact known within the community. They also asked that transport be made available to pick them up at the Carpet factory, should that prove necessary. It was growing abundantly clear that the whole idea of a meeting had been a complicated ploy to lull Nationalists into a false sense of security, and an attempt to ensure that their community's leadership was kept out of the way.

At just after 11.00 am, the delegates received telephoned reports of major RUC movements at Drumcree Road. They then asked to speak to the Church leaders. The residents then entered the room where the churchmen were and informed them that they were leaving and returning to Churchill Park. They stated that, in their opinion, the meeting had been a complete sham. On leaving the building, the residents' delegates were told that the Orange representatives had already left earlier. At no stage were the residents ever informed of this fact.

The leadership of the GRRC had been cut off from the community and only discovered by chance that the RUC were moving in to seal off the Garvaghy Road. By the time the three reached Churchill Park, the RUC was already preparing to force the Orangemen through the area. As a result of the delegates hurriedly informing the community of the new situation, several hundred local residents congregated on the Garvaghy Road, with a large force of RUC personnel in full riot gear less than fifty yards away from them. One member of the Residents' Coalition, Joe Duffy, who had asked to talk to a senior RUC officer, was hit by a police baton and suffered a concussion and a head wound. He was later hospitalized. His was to be the first of many injuries received at the hands of the RUC that day.

Many local people were enraged at the RUC and Government's complete and utter capitulation to the Orangemen's demands and threats of force. They also knew that the next minutes were not going to be easy. Determined to maintain their rights and their dignity, and showing that they, at least, refused to accept or succumb to the dominance of the Orange Order, as one body they sat down on the roadway and chanted their defiance at the Order, the Government and its' forces: "No Sectarian Marches, No Sectarian Marches".

Chief Superintendent McCreesh approached the residents' spokesperson in order to talk to him. Mr. McCreesh's first words were "I had no part in this - I'm only carrying out orders". He was told the Nazi SS had once used the same excuse and the conversation was closed. A few minutes later Mr. McCreesh approached the sit-down protesters. His attempts to speak were drowned by locals chanting "SS RUC". In response, he turned around and waved his blackthorn stick at the men under his command.

It was the order for the RUC to commence one of the worst displays of sectarian thuggery witnessed since 1969. Age or sex did not matter as hundreds of RUC men, heavily clad with body armour, mercilessly attacked the protesters from three sides. Men, women and children were assaulted and dragged screaming from the roadway and thrown behind a row of armoured landrovers.

Wooden RUC batons crashed into the limbs and skulls of others. Even hardened journalists were repulsed at what they bore witness to, as the crack of breaking arms and legs could be heard clearly. In a few minutes, the road was clear and sealed off by a double line of landrovers. In those few minutes at least fifty people had suffered broken limbs, head wounds and were in need of medical treatment.

But the RUC's orgy of violence had not ended. When the Orange march victoriously turned from Drumcree Road onto the Garvaghy Road, the drumbeats were the signal for yet another needless attack by the RUC. As men, women and children stood about still reeling from the shock caused by the viciousness of the RUC's first assault and while others treated the injured, two lines of RUC men with shields and batons charged the residents again. Beating them into the estate, the RUC commenced firing continuously while a small group of youth fired stones. There followed completely indiscriminate volleys of plastic baton rounds, causing even more injuries.

Among the wounded was a Canadian press photographer, hit on the shoulder by a plastic bullet. Other press photographers, reporters and television news crews were forced out of the area by the RUC to prevent them recording the brutality meted out on a community whose only crime was their refusal to acquiesce to the triumphalist and sectarian parades of the Orange Order. Indeed one RUC man was heard quite clearly on television telling his colleagues to "Get that scum out of here" as one camera crew was frogmarched out of the area. A Catholic priest who tried to remonstrate with the RUC was verbally abused by members of this "impartial and professional police force".

As the march passed and made its' way towards the town centre where thousands of loyalists had gathered, shock and disbelief on the Garvaghy Road turned to fury as Nationalist youths ineffectually tried to respond to the RUC's actions by throwing anything on which they could lay their hands.

It was the beginning of a fury that spread throughout the entire island, which united behind a trampled, bloodied but dignified community, and which outrightly condemned the British Government and those forces under its' control. It was an understandable reaction to a series of events which was vividly described by one mother of three children from Churchill Park when she said, "This community, the Garvaghy Road community, was raped".

Peaceful protesters had been subjected by four days of terror and intimidation only to be subject to a disgraceful display of state violence. This provided a violent backlash which left a second person dead (in Derry). A week later the community was brought back to the power of peaceful political protest by a rally which saw 4000 visitors join the 6,000 residents in a silent walk through their area.

The hurt continued when comments and statements made later by the British Prime Minister, the Secretary of State and the RUC Chief Constable sought to distort the truth and to apportion blame for those events upon the Catholic/Nationalist community. It would only further compound the injustices against this community to allow those remarks to go unchallenged.

Barry Cowan of Radio Ulster's Seven Days programme on Saturday July 13, conducted an in-depth interview with the RUC Chief Constable, Hugh Annesley. On Monday July 15, British Prime Minister, John Major was interviewed on the BBC panorama programme by David Dimbleby.

Chief Constable Annesley - "The failure and the violence of Drumcree lies squarely on the shoulders of the Portadown Orange Lodge and on the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition who between them had over one year to sort out whether or not the march should go down"

John Major - "I think the Garvaghy Road residents were unreasonable in the way they refused to discuss and to compromise for a long time on how a peaceful march, a peaceful march could have passed through Garvaghy Road."

They failed to recognise the gesture of compromise made by the residents one year previously. Neither did they recognise the disgraceful manner in which that compromise was mistreated and abused by the Orange Order and by Unionist politicians. They also failed to recognise the reasonable grounds on which a minority community in Portadown are justified is withholding consent to the Drumcree parade passing through the heart of their area.

Both men ignored the fact that the Residents' Coalition worked for over a year to reach a resolution of the marching issue in Portadown. That fact has been confirmed by independent mediators who helped broker the '95 compromise, and who tried unsuccessfully on the GRRC's behalf to open direct dialogue with the Orange Order. For twelve months the Orange Order refused to meet the residents. So too did the local MP David Trimble and the Secretary Of State. This fact is also supported by the comments of Cardinal Cathal Daly on Thursday July 11 1996 when he said that the GRRC "tried very hard over twelve months to find a reasonable solution to this year's march through dialogue and agreement. Their repeated requests for meetings and dialogue were spurned."

Both men totally ignored the Mediation Network statement of July 12, 1996, which stated that the RUC had assured them in July 1995 that "there would be no further marches on Garvaghy Road without the residents' consent".

The Mediation Network also said "During the past year our efforts (at mediation) have been hindered by the inability of the Orange Order to recognise the bona fides of residents' groups such as the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition".

Annesley - "There was no political interference with me either at the beginning, in the middle or at the end. There was no interference with me from the Northern Ireland Office, from the Prime Minister."
Major - "It is not for ministers to instruct the Chief Constable on how to handle a matter dealing with control on the streets. He is the professional at that, not the Secretary, of State or any other minister"

Why then did NIO officials acting on behalf of the Government meet with the GRRC on Wednesday July 10, seeking, on behalf of that same Government, "to put Orange feet on Garvaghy Road"?

Did Annesley and Major expect anyone to believe that there was no Governmental input in the decision to force through the march on July 11? A decision which Cardinal Daly described as being "clearly taken for political reasons".

Annesley - "I would not have traded one life for the Garvaghy Road."

One man's life had already been traded: - that of 31 year old Michael McGoldrick, murdered by loyalist paramilitaries acting in support of the Orange Order at Drumcree. Hours before Annesley's interview was broadcast, another life was traded for the Garvaghy Road: -that of 35 year old Dermot McShane in Derry, crushed beneath a British Army Saxon carrier.

One unmistakeable reality is that the events of July 7-11 could have been avoided. In the year prior to July 96, the Garvaghy Road Residents' Coalition made many attempts to enter into a genuine dialogue with the Orange Order. All those attempts were spurned and rejected. Even the local MP and Unionist Party Leader, David Trimble, who should have known better, opted to "ride the wild horses of hatred and sectarianism" (Irish Times Editorial July 13 1995) rather than enter into dialogue to resolve this issue. The British Secretary of State also saw "no useful purpose" in discussing the matter with local residents.

The Orange Order lost any right to parade with its symbols and emblems down the Garvaghy Road by its triumphalist behaviour after 1995 and its refusal to meet the only representatives of the local community on this issue. How can a small community, that has to shoulder more than its fair share of deprivation, stand up to the combined forces of the Orange Order, the unionist parties and loyalist extremists? How can its voice be heard? The media have been of tremendous help by portraying the ugly reality. But ultimately it is up to the state and the forces of law and order to protect all the citizens.

It is that lack of will by the State which was demonstrated clearly on July 10 at the meeting which took place between British Government representatives and the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition. Those Government officials did not seek to reassure residents that they would be afforded the same full protection of their rights by the State and all its' forces as people living in Surrey or Sussex would expect to be afforded.

No. Those same Government officials preferred to see "Orange feet on Garvaghy Road" irrespective of the protection of whatever rights the people of Garvaghy were entitled to. In return, the Government would institute "a fully independent review of the marching phenomenon, not just in Portadown, but in Northern Ireland as a whole". Little wonder such an offer was rejected. If their rights to live peacefully within in their own neighbourhood could not be protected in July, how would a "review of the marching phenomenon" protect their rights in the future?

It is up to the state to give special concern for the minorities and the deprived. Alas there was an abysmal failure to do so in the Drumcree crisis of 1996.

The 1996 Drumcree crisis has resulted, directly and indirectly, in three deaths, in a feeling of rage and outrage of the minority tradition in Northern Ireland, and a small deprived community reeling from a week of Orange Order terror tactics and from being humiliated by the police. Maybe this experience will bring to the attention of all what is at the heart of the matter - It is not the marches, it is not the banners or the bands, it is not the numbers taking part that is the problem - the problem is the Orange Order itself as an overtly sectarian and political organisation that places itself above the law. At least this year there was no march allowed.

But the fat lady hasn't sang yet, I fear.

Throughout its' history, the Order has been chiefly concerned with the maintenance of the superiority and dominance of one section of the population over the other. Many people, including churchmen and other members of the Protestant community, have recognised this fact. Some governments even tried in vain to suppress the Orange organisation in the last century to no avail. Those attempts failed, not because of a lack of effective legislation, but because of the lack of a political will by Governments to properly implement that legislation effectively. July 1996 was no different from other years in that respect.

When the Prime Minister and his Northern Secretary denied that there had been any Governmental input into the decision to force the march along the Garvaghy Road on July 11th 1996, they were being economic with the truth. After all, NIO officials met the Residents' Coalition on the Government's behalf on July 10th and proposed exactly that which the Government would make public in the House of Commons 24 hours later.

The scepticism that a review body would secure the rights of Portadown Nationalists is well-founded - a review body that was originally put forward to secure "Orange feet on Garvaghy Road" irrespective of the wishes of the overwhelming majority of those who live there.

The only really significant statement that the Independent Review Body of Parades and Marches could report to the British Government is that until such times as some Government is prepared to admit to and then redress the sectarian influence of the Loyal Orders in Six County state, and their ability to undermine the legal justice system, the problems they create could well prove to remain an annual affliction.

In light of the events of this year, and of previous years, it is an unacceptable, unjustifiable and unnecessary affliction which this community does not wish to have visited upon it again. Two alternative routes do exist for the Orange Order to march to and from Drumcree. The first is from the town centre via Corcrain Road, Charles St., and Dungannon Road, returning by that route. The second is from the town centre via Loughgall Road, Corcullentragh and across to the Drumcree Road, again returning by this same route.

The first is the route put forward by the GRRC since 1995 as an acceptable compromise. Even though the march passes Catholic homes and a Catholic Church as it goes along Charles Street and the Dungannon Road this is regarded by this community as the least contentious of the routes through the Nationalist/Catholic area of Portadown. When this compromise was proposed it was sincerely believed that this route offered a comparable level of dignity to both the Orange Order members and the Catholic/Nationalist Community. However, given what occurred this year, particularly in the aftermath of many loyalist attacks on homes along this route, it may be difficult to convince many Nationalists that even this compromise affords them real dignity.

Thank you for reading this.p> B.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Story of Drumcree
From: Brendy
Date: 12 Jul 00 - 09:15 AM

Part III

When no reply was forthcoming, a second letter was sent on January 17 1996 which added that the residents felt there is a certain urgency about a meeting with the local Member of Parliament.

With still no response, a similar letter was sent the following month as well, but to no avail.

The Secretary of State was also asked at the same time to meet the residents. Sir Patrick Mayhew's willingness to address meetings of the Orange Order in Comber, County Down, and other places, was to be in stark contrast to the response sent by his office to the Residents Coalition. Far from wishing to address the fears or hear the viewpoint of Portadown's Catholic/ Nationalist community, Mayhew stated that, in his opinion, a meeting with the residents "would serve no useful purpose at this time."

Considering what had already occurred that July, and the genuine fears which the local Catholic community harboured for the following year, Mayhew's response could only be described as extremely irresponsible and offensive.

The RUC meanwhile had cautioned a number of people who had taken part in the peaceful protests against the Orange marches and had said that prosecutions were pending. The Residents Coalition issued a statement asking if all those who had taken part in the illegal parades and assemblies at Drumcree and other places had also been cautioned. It was pointed out by the Residents that Ian Paisley had made a speech which had caused over 1,000 Orangemen to riot, while David Trimble and Harold Gracey, as well as several other prominent Unionist/Orange leaders, had been encouraging people to assemble at Drumcree in defiance of the law. The Coalition stated that if the law was to be seen to be applied impartially, then Trimble, Paisley, Gracey and others should also be prosecuted. No such prosecutions of these leaders took place.

In January, a delegation of the Residents Coalition met with leading members of the Presbyterian Church at Church House in Belfast. This exchange of views with the Presbyterians, who included four former Moderators of the Church, was felt to have been very constructive.

In the same month a similar delegation of residents met the RUC Chief Constable, Sir Hugh Annesley, Deputy Chief Constable Blair Wallace, Assistant Chief Constable Fred Hall along with "J" Divisional Commander, Terence Heuston. The RUC chiefs were questioned on their apparent inability to police the situation in Portadown the previous July, and the failure to prevent thousands of Orangemen from outside the area from coming to Portadown. The Chief Constable was asked directly what action, if any, had been taken against the officer in charge at Craigwell Avenue on Monday July 10, when the RUC had refused to protect Catholic families living there. While Annesley replied that an investigation had been unable to identify the officer in question (who was of at least the rank of Inspector), he did not deny that the incident had in fact taken place.

The RUC Chief Constable in response to another question from the residents' representatives accepted that the overwhelming majority of people living in the Garvaghy Road area were opposed to the Orange parades. He also accepted that the GRRC represented the views of the residents.

However, CC Annesley went on to suggest that there was no guarantee that the events which had taken place in Portadown with regard to the Orange parade and subsequent demonstrations in '95 would not happen again. When the residents asked if the RUC was prepared to stand by the statement which DCC Flanagan had told the mediators the previous July (that no parades would take place without the consent of the residents), they were met with silence. The Chief Constable said that the primary responsibility was with the two disputing parties and he felt the onus was on the GRRC to resolve the issue. He accepted that the they had made every effort to meet with the Portadown Orange representatives and if they failed to act on their responsibility then this would have to be taken into consideration.

In answer to their written request, the Church of Ireland Primate, Archbishop Robin Eames, agreed to meet a delegation of residents' representatives. The meeting in Armagh appeared to be the most positive one to date, with the Archbishop telling the delegation that he was hopeful of being able to arrange a meeting between the residents and the Orange Order. He also intimated his belief that he would be able to bring the Unionist political parties, as well as the loyalist paramilitaries on board. Nevertheless, at Easter, Eames was to inform the residents that his attempts to facilitate a meeting had ended in failure.

A meeting was also held between the residents and the SDLP's Brid Rodgers and Mark Durkan.

In May and June, public meetings were held in the Garvaghy Road area at which there was unanimous support given to the Residents Coalition, and universal calls were made for the rerouting of the forthcoming parades. A meeting was also held with the Portadown RUC commander.

Also at the end of May, representatives of the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition met with Deputy Chief Constable Flanagan and Assistant Chief Constable Hall. Flanagan denied having made any statement the previous year to the mediators concerning future parades along the Garvaghy Road. However, he said that, unlike in other years, a decision would be announced as to whether or not the Drumcree parade could go ahead several days beforehand. The residents again reiterated the opposition of their community to any such parades by the Orange Order along the Garvaghy Road. They told Flanagan and Hall that it was their intention to use whatever peaceful and legal means they could to prevent the parade going ahead against the stated wishes of Portadown's Catholic/Nationalist community. The residents representatives also clearly informed the two senior RUC officers that any protests organised by the GRRC would be wholly confined to local people.

June saw the beginning of prosecutions against Nationalists for their part in the anti-parade protests of the previous July. Five people were due to appear in court on charges of hindering the free flow of traffic. Only one case went ahead while the rest were adjourned for another several months.

The two day hearing against the chairperson of the Residents Coalition, Breandan Mac Cionnaith, was eventually thrown out by the magistrate. The magistrate criticised the Crown Prosecution for having brought the case in the first place, stating at one juncture "I have not seen anything at all that would remotely approximate to support this charge". He went on to describe evidence given by several RUC witnesses as being "flimsy and nebulous. " During the course of the proceedings, the main RUC witness, Superintendent James Blair, was shown to have produced false and manufactured documentary evidence while under oath.

The GRRC, meanwhile, had engaged legal counsel in order to institute High Court action to prevent the Orange march from proceeding, and a number of various legal challenges were planned by the lawyers.

At the invitation of Craigavon Community and Police Liaison Committee, the Residents' Coalition addressed that body, putting forward their case for the rerouting of the Orange marches. A similar invitation was also issued to the Orange Order but they refused to attend.

On June 27, less than a fortnight before the planned Orange march was due to take place, the GRRC called another public meeting in Ashgrove Community Centre. Aware of the false allegations being made by Unionists and Orangemen that the GRRC was only a republican front, representatives of various political parties and other observers were invited to attend. Those who accepted the invitation were Tom French (Workers Party), Dr. William Ramsey (Alliance Party), Brid Rodgers (SDLP), Pat McGeown (Sinn Fein), and Fr. Raymond Murray. An official of the Irish Government observed the proceedings. The GRRC's legal advisors were also present. Over 800 people attended the meeting, many of whom were unable to get into the actual centre. Those present unanimously voted in favour of holding peaceful protests in the event of the authorities deciding to allow the contentious parade to go ahead.

It was proposed and carried that the protests should commence from Thursday July 4th onwards. The meeting also decided that a community festival would be organised for the Garvaghy Road on Sunday July 7th and that a protest march would take place that same morning. The RUC were subsequently given the statutory notification concerning these activities. It also became obvious during the course of the public meeting that a substantial number of people were also opposed to the route taken by the Orange Order on their way to Drumcree. However, the majority of those present accepted that if the Orange Order were to voluntarily reroute from the Garvaghy Road, the Charles St./Dungannon Road route would not be questioned.

On Wednesday July 3, the GRRC held a meeting with DCC Flanagan and ACC Hall in Belfast. The meeting lasted for less than an hour, during which time the Deputy Chief Constable attempted to instill fear in the GRRC delegation. For most of the meeting, Flanagan tried to paint a bleak scenario of what would happen should the Orange march be rerouted. He made it known that the Orange Order had an organised plan ready to put into operation if the march did not get going down the Garvaghy Road. The residents asked what the RUC decision was to be but he refused to answer, saying it would be announced within the next 48 hours. The residents told Flanagan that they were also aware of the Orangemen's plans, and that the threat of force had been used before in Portadown by the Order. They expressed disappointment that the Orangemen had not negotiated with them and had forfeited any right to parade.

On Thursday July 4, around 500 people took part in the first of the series of protests on the Garvaghy Road against the Orange march due on the 7th. The protest, which took the form of a roadside picket, stretched for half a mile along the road, and was video-taped by the RUC. Following the hour long protest those taking part in the protest were addressed by a speaker from the GRRC.

On Friday morning, the world media gathered at RUC Headquarters to hear the decision concerning Sunday's Orange march. They were disappointed. The RUC said that the announcement was delayed until the following day as "negotiations" were ongoing. This came as a surprise to the Residents Coalition who issued a statement asking who was negotiating with who, as they had not had any contact with the RUC, or anyone else, since Wednesday.

On Friday afternoon. the residents commenced their legal bid in the High Court to force the Secretary of State to use the powers available to him to ban the march. The judge hearing the case adjourned until Saturday, pending the outcome of the RUC announcement. Many of the Northern Ireland Office's most senior officials were present for the hearing and, unusually for a Friday afternoon, three Appeal Court Judges were on stand-by.

That evening the second protest was held on the Garvaghy Road. The crowd was larger than the night before, with somewhere in the region of 800 people taking part.

That night, the Residents Coalition received a set of proposals from Archbishop Robin Eames, suggesting that a meeting with the Orange Order take place on Saturday morning. The Coalition viewed Dr. Eames' proposals as very unhelpful and biased against them, given the addendum that in his view

"a march along the Garvaghy Road would form a necessary part of any agreement."

Eames' proposed meeting never took place as the Orange Order again refused to enter into any form of dialogue with the Residents' Coalition.

On Saturday morning, the residents returned to the High Court in Belfast to resume the adjourned legal action. Again, many senior NIO officials were present, and once more, three Appeal Court judges had been put on stand-by by the Government should the High Court have ruled in favour of the residents.

At the same time, the RUC Chief Constable, Hugh Annesley, held his delayed press conference. In announcing the rerouting of the Drumcree march away from Garvaghy, Annesley told the press that there was a perfectly acceptable and viable alternative route available to the Orange Order - an argument Nationalists in Portadown had been making for years.

Given this decision, the Residents' legal action did not now go ahead, and a statement was issued by them saying that all activities planned by the GRRC were now cancelled. The statement called on people to remain calm in the difficult days ahead and expressed concern for the safety of people living in possible flashpoint areas.

The Grand Master of the Orange Order, Martin Smyth MP, condemned the RUC decision and in a strange twist to the history of the situation in Portadown said;

"It is actually bowing to an element who have orchestrated the last two years this protest, whereas in previous years, it had gone without any problem."(Sunday Life July 7)

Smyth's statement was part of a concerted propaganda campaign being waged by the Orange Order to try an convince the media and public opinion that Orange marches had never caused controversy before in Portadown.

Ian Paisley, ignoring all the efforts made by the residents throughout the year and the fact that the GRRC had only ever engaged in peaceful protests and legal challenges, went even further:

"When a country is run by threats and when the authorities give in to threats, then there is no law and order." (Sunday Life July 7)

Given what was about to happen over the next week, Paisley's words were to have a prophetic ring about them, albeit in a different context.

The Mid-Ulster UVF issued a grimly worded statement which hinted at its intention to use force -

"There is a feeling on the ground that we have reached the point of no return." (Sunday Life July 7)

Ominously, in the light of the UVF statement, the Sunday World carried a report saying it,

"... had learned that contingency plans are already in place to carry out a terrorist attack against Catholics."

Throughout the night of Saturday July 6th 1996, over 2,000 British troops and RUC men were deployed in Portadown. The GAA field at Ballyoran and St. John the Baptist primary school on the Garvaghy Road were turned into military installations. A number of RUC landrovers were lined across the road at Drumcree. Behind them were more RUC landrovers with British Army armoured personnel carriers as further back-up. Overnight, the Nationalist areas had taken on the appearance of a war-zone.

Declan Bree TD, Joe Costello TD, Eamon Úi Chaoibh TD and Senator Sean Maloney arrived in town at the request of the GRRC to act as observers.

On Sunday morning, larger than usual numbers of Orangemen took part in the Orange march to Drumcree, with the local MP, David Trimble, at its' head. Hundreds of hangers-on were allowed by the RUC to accompany the march past Catholic homes at Craigwell Avenue, Charles St. and the Dungannon Road. As the last of the marchers passed through Charles St., their supporters completely blockaded the road. A BBC camera crew and a press photographer were attacked.

Following the church service, the Orangemen paraded towards the RUC lines and then returned to outside the Church where their leaders addressed them. Harold Gracey told the Orangemen that, in a few hours, they would see the protests happening throughout the North. One reporter was later to state that Gracey was seen "in conversation" several times during Sunday with Billy Wright.

Orange Grand Master, the Rev Martin Smith told the assembled throng -

"Drumcree is not isolated. If you think you can isolate it you have made a grave mistake. There can be no compromise."

Ian Paisley was in his usual blood curdling form when he arrived in the afternoon -

"We are fighting for the promise of the life to come, and that's worth fighting for and that's worth dying for."

As thousands more Orangemen and supporters began to pour into Drumcree and throughout the day, sporadic violence erupted.

Across the Six Counties, roads were blocked in Belfast, Larne, Ballymena, Tobermore, Markethill, Moira, Dervock, Dromore, Bangor, Newtownards, Ballymena and several other areas, The RUC made little or no attempts to intervene.

Orangemen and their supporters seized control of all roads around Portadown and the town's Catholic/Nationalist community was effectively left isolated. International observers later stated Orangemen and their supporters were mounting roadblocks around the town and controlling all access to traffic.

As night fell, Orangemen and their supporters made several violent and unsuccessful attempts to break through the barbed wire entanglements at Drumcree.

A Catholic taxi-driver was murdered during the hours of darkness by loyalist paramilitary elements, widely believed to be members of the Mid-Ulster UVF. The body of 31 year old Michael McGoldrick from Lurgan, the father of a seven year old girl and whose wife was expecting their second child, was not discovered until Monday morning. The dead man's parents said that "fire and brimstone" speeches by politicians had caused their son's death.

Only a few hundred Orangemen remained at Drumcree. Almost all shops and businesses in Portadown were forced to close on Monday following threats from Loyalist paramilitaries. All roads into town remained closed and many vehicles were hijacked and burned by "peaceful" Orange protesters. In Ballymena, over £1,000,000 in damages was caused by rioting loyalists and the main Portadown-Dublin railway line was blocked at Poyntzpass. Armagh City was added to the list of blockaded towns. Main roads across the North, including the MI, M2 and the main Belfast-Dublin road were blocked. Unionist politicians, leading Orange figures and members of the business community were identified as having participated in the illegal blockades. In Belfast, Catholic families were forced out of their homes in the Oldpark area. Larne Harbour and Belfast International Airport are blockaded and the funeral cortege of a woman who died in Wolverhampton was prevented from leaving the airport.

In contrast to their inaction against the illegal blockades by the Orange Order which were bringing the North to a standstill, the RUC batoned Nationalists protesting against an Orange parade in Bellaghy.

Nationalists in Portadown were expressing their concern at the apparent freedom of movement being enjoyed by Orangemen. No attempts were made by the RUC or British Army to prevent Orangemen marching out to Drumcree from the town centre. Catholics living in Craigwell Avenue, Charles St. and along the Dungannon Road were the targets of constant abuse by these marchers.

Several thousand Orangemen and supporters again gathered at Drumcree that evening, and once more there were sporadic outbreaks of violence.

The Rev. Martin Smyth, MP and Grand Master of the Orange Order, commenced a campaign aimed at demonising the main spokesperson for the Garvaghy Residents. As a result of these personal attacks and before the week was over, the residents' spokesperson was to become the focus of intense loyalist hatred and the recipient of several paramilitary death threats.

Many people hoped that someone within the Unionist community would raise a voice of opposition to what was being carried out in their name. Only silence was heard as the powerful Orange card ensured everyone toed the line. Unionists politicians of all shades made clear their support for the Orange Order while ignoring the lawlessness taking place all around them.

As darkness fell, Orangemen used a powerful public address system continually during the night to prevent residents in the Nationalist areas from sleeping in a not-so-subtle attempt at psychological warfare.

On Tuesday morning the GRRC received a telephone call from Peter Smyth of the Northern Ireland Office. The NIO were seeking a private, off-the record meeting. Conscious of the fact that the Secretary of State had refused the Coalition's earlier request for a meeting on the grounds that "it would serve no useful purpose", and wary that the NIO might later deny the meeting, the GRRC asked Smyth to put the request in writing. The NIO then faxed a letter through which was signed by J. M. Steele. Steele's letter said the purpose of the discussions would be to get a first-hand impression of the feelings of the local community at this particularly tense period; and to explore what, if any, room for manoeuvre the association sees as existing now or in the future."

The Residents Coalition met and discussed Smyth's letter and agreed to a meeting. They sent a reply to the NIO setting out points for discussion, including the rerouting and the feelings of the local community.

The Coalition's response also pointed out that any Orange march down the Garvaghy Road that year was "currently viewed as totally unacceptable and not open to discussion."

That morning's edition of the Guardian newspaper carried a photograph, taken in Portadown within hours of the murder of Michael McGoldrick, of a Loyalist paramilitary armed with an AK47 assault rifle. A message faxed to the GRRC office, in a chilling and ominous reference to the McGoldrick murder stated quite simply -

"1 DEAD, 5,999 MORE TO GO"

Right across the North, Orangemen and their supporters continued with their blockades. Reports were being received by the media that many of these blockades were taking place with the apparent collusion of the RUC in many places. By now, Orange and Unionist leaders were threatening to bring every Orangemen in the North to Portadown for the Twelfth.

Many hundreds of messages pledging solidarity and support for the beleaguered Nationalist community were now arriving from throughout all the 32 Counties, Britain, USA, Canada, Italy, France, Germany, and even as far away as Australia and New Zealand. Human rights groups and activists; ordinary men, women and children; tenants and community groups; political parties. All stating a simple message - that despite the Orange Order's attempts to blockade and physically intimidate the Nationalist community in Portadown, vulnerable though it was, that community was far from isolated.

A near riot situation was prevented in the afternoon on the Garvaghy Road by members of the Residents Coalition. Superintendent Blair and a number of other RUC officers were seen meeting there with Trimble, Gracey and another Orangeman in full view of the local people. This angered many residents who had now been living under siege for 48 hours. When members of the GRRC arrived on the scene, Trimble and company immediately left the area by car. When the Blair was challenged by committee members as to whether he was deliberately trying to provoke a riot by meeting with Trimble and the others in the Nationalist area, Blair angrily responded that "there is no such thing as a Nationalist area in this town."

Numbers of Orangemen at Drumcree again remained fairly small during the day, prompting many to ask why no effort was being made to remove them. In Derry the Unionist Mayor of the city took part in a blockade of Craigavon Bridge. That evening also saw a repetition of the previous nights marches from the town out to Drumcree by several thousands of Orangemen and bands. Fleets of buses ferried the marchers in from various parts of the North. The, by now, familiar sectarian chant of "we're going to burn Garvaghy, we're going to burn Garvaghy" was heard clearly across the fields in the nearby Catholic estates, where tension was already high. At one stage, when the Orange mob threatened to burst through RUC lines, a small number of plastic bullets were fired.

David Trimble and Ian Paisley flew to London where they held talks with the British Prime Minister that evening.

Around the same time, Breandan Mac Cionnaith of the Residents Coalition received a request from the Church of Ireland Primate, Archbishop Robin Eames, for a meeting on Wednesday morning in Armagh to discuss what Archbishop Eames termed "the current dilemma". The Coalition met and discussed Archbishop Eames' offer of a meeting. It was agreed that Mac Cionnaith should go and hear what Archbishop Eames had to say.

The Orange Order maintained the psychological warfare with their P.A. system throughout the night, with tape recordings of loyalist music and speeches constantly being played.

A meeting between Mac Cionnaith and Archbishop Eames took place at 9.15 am and lasted for around 30 minutes. Archbishop Eames expressed his concern at the deteriorating situation in the North, and asked was there any way out of the dilemma.

Mac Cionnaith said that he was only too well aware of the situation as his community, in Portadown was bearing the brunt of the Orange intimidation. He pointed out that it was the Orange Order and Unionist politicians who had created the situation , not the Nationalist community. So therefore any onus must be on those same people to solve it. Mac Cionnaith also reminded Archbishop Eames that the Residents Coalition had been trying for over a year to enter into dialogue with the Orange Order on the parades issue without any response.

Archbishop Eames then said he might still be able to arrange a meeting with the Orange Order, but nothing definite was agreed on, as Archbishop Eames suggested some elements within the Orange Order were forming a stumbling block.

Mac Cionnaith and the others returned to Portadown. On both journeys, the residents were stopped by the RUC. At 11. 10 am, a residents' delegation consisting of Breandan Mac Cionnaith, Eamon Stack, Joe Duffy and Laura Boyle met the Northern Ireland Office officials in the local community centre. Present for the NIO were John Steele, Peter Smyth and Ms. McGimpsey. The NIO asked that the meeting be kept confidential but the GRRC delegation insisted that they have freedom to publish details of the meeting if they judged it to be of benefit the residents of the area. The following summary of that meeting is based on the NIO's own records:

The NIO stated that, for the Government, the meeting was a listening exercise with a group recognised as representing the Garvaghy Road residents. While acknowledging the sensitivities of local Nationalists, in view of the deteriorating across Northern Ireland, it would be in everyone's interests if some accommodation could be reached to end the impasse.

The GRRC emphasised that the Nationalist community in Garvaghy Road was unanimously against Orange marches, and that last year's compromise had been based on an understanding that no further parades would take place along the Garvaghy Road, and the RUC at present were merely enforcing that commitment. The intimidation of local Nationalist families was a yearly ritual which had to be halted.

The NIO stated that the situation was recognised even by the leaders of the Orange Order as having the potential for disaster- they needed help in finding a way out.

The GRRC responded by saying that alternative routes had been suggested to the Orange Order. The compromise brokered last year had been exploited by the Order and by Unionist politicians, and was not repeatable. The present situation was not of the GRRC's making, and it was up to the Orange Order to extricate itself from the untenable position it had created by its own actions.

The NIO suggested that the Orange Order leadership had little room for manoeuvre in current circumstances. If a compromise solution involving Orange feet on the Garvaghy Road could be agreed, the role of the GRRC would be recognised and valued by the Government. In addition, the Government would institute a fully independent review of the marching phenomenon, not just in Portadown but in Northern Ireland as a whole.

The GRRC responded by saying it was ironic that it had taken the Government almost a year to recognise the value of the 1995 gesture. The idea of an official inquiry had been around for years, and there was no reason - despite the NIO side's personal assurances - that the latest offer would be any more effective. There would be implacable opposition from the Nationalist community to any compromise to any Orange presence on the Garvaghy Road. The residents also pointed out to the NIO that any possible solutions would have to discussed by the whole committee and publicly endorsed by the local community.

When the full Residents Coalition committee met later, the consensus was that the NIO had offered nothing of substance to the local community. A response to that effect was then sent to the NIO. Indeed, it was the feeling of the GRRC delegates who had been at the earlier meeting that the NIO, and by implication, the British Government, clearly were in favour of an Orange march going ahead. Also becoming clear was the fact that a diplomatic offensive was being launched against the Residents Coalition in order to achieve their community's surrender to the demands of the Orange Order.

Furthermore, the fact is undeniable that this meeting took place with NCO officials acting for the Government. The NIO record clearly shows that statements made by Mayhem and John Major saying the Government was not in any way involved with the decision making over Drumcree were completely untrue.

It is most likely that the decision to force the Orangemen down the Garvaghy Road was made at Government level in the immediate aftermath of this meeting.

Meanwhile at Drumcree, Orangemen had produced a mechanical digger. This digger was driven in and out of Drumcree on three separate occasions. At no time did the RUC or British Army attempt to stop or seize the machine on its' journeys in or out of the area. At its second appearance, steel sheeting had been placed around the cab. The British Army then responded by bringing up their own 20-ton bulldozer which was supported by a 10-ton truck. Still no attempt was made to seize the digger. Nationalists in Portadown wryly remembered back to the 1970's when a similar machine had been commandeered in Obins Street. The British Army and RUC had found no difficulty in retrieving that machine - but then that digger had been commandeered by Nationalists.

Orangemen at Drumcree cheered loudly in response to an announcement over the P.A. system that two companies of the Royal Irish Regiment, based at Mahon Road Barracks in Portadown, had refused to leave the barracks for duty that afternoon.

David Trimble met the leaders of the four main Churches that same afternoon, including Cardinal Daly who had only arrived back from Austria a few hours before. After the meeting, the Church leaders then drew up a set of proposals to put to all sides. Cardinal Daly did not recommend that the GRRC accept the proposals.

Also that evening, British Labour Party spokesperson, Mo Mowlam M.P., flew into the North and met the Residents Coalition. The residents expressed their concerns to her and she promised to highlight the issue.

At shortly after 5.00 pm Archbishop Eames phoned Breandan Mac Cionnaith asking him to nominate three people to meet the Orange Order. Dr. Eames was putting himself forward as chair of any such meeting. The Archbishop was informed that only the entire GRRC committee could decide who would be their representatives at any proposed meeting. At around 7.00 pm, when the Coalition was having its own meeting, Dr. Eames phoned again saying he needed the three names rather urgently. Mac Cionnaith responded by asking him for a set of proposals which would be discussed at the meeting before any delegates could be decided upon.

Later that evening, Cardinal Daly met the Residents Coalition at 8.00 pm in Churchill Park, Portadown. During the course of this meeting, a fax arrived from Dr. Eames outlining several proposals. When Cardinal Daly read the fax, he informed the residents that these proposals were not what the other three Church leaders had agreed to earlier in the day. He indicated that the Orange Order were offering nothing that would leave the Catholic residents with their dignity intact. The Cardinal voiced his support for the alternative route put forward by the GRRC. Dr. Eames was losing the confidence of the GRRC as he seemed too biased in his mediation. Nevertheless, the residents responded to Archbishop Eames' fax by sending him their own proposals.

The Residents' Coalition stated that they would be willing to participate in a meeting with the Orange Order, provided that such a meeting be confined to only members of Portadown District, and be co-chaired by Cardinal Daly and Archbishop Eames. They then proposed two main items for an agenda:

Discussion and agreement on the issue of parity of esteem and the principle of consent to be accepted by the Orange Order in relation to all future marches.
Only in the event of agreement on these issues, would the Residents Coalition be willing to discuss what Archbishop Eames had described as "the current dilemma".

The Coalition also made clear the local community would have to be consulted regarding any proposed agreement concerning marches, and that any such agreement would have to be endorsed and accepted by the community.

There was then a lot of to-ing and fro-ing as Archbishop Eames then tried to set a time for the meeting. It was eventually agreed that the meeting would take place in the offices of the Ulster Carpet Mills at 9.00 am the following day.

However, it would soon become apparent that another train of events was in motion elsewhere that effectively was to make this meeting redundant.

Shortly after the appearance of the RUC's Deputy Chief Constable, Ronnie Flanagan. At Drumcree that night, Harold Gracey and Ian Paisley addressed the crowds of Orangemen assembled there. Both men were extremely confident that the Orange Order would be marching along the Garvaghy Road, and said that the Portadown Orangemen would be in Tandragee, 5 miles away, for the main July 12th rally. Around the same time, many of the RUC and British Army vehicles which, up until then, had been facing the Orangemen, were being redeployed during the hours of darkness to face towards the Catholic/Nationalist enclave.

It was to emerge later that, during the night, a number of journalists were told by prominent Unionist and Orange figures that the Orange march was to be allowed to proceed into town along the Garvaghy Road.

David Trimble held a secret meeting with leading Mid-Ulster Loyalist, Billy Wright, in an upstairs room of Drumcree Church Hall. The meeting would, in all probability, have remained secret but for the presence in the hall of the BBC's Peter Taylor. Unfortunately, Taylor was not privy to that which the Unionist and the Loyalist had discussed. What is known is that David Trimble afterwards conveyed a paramilitary threat from the Mid-Ulster UVF to the British Secretary of State, Patrick Mayhew.

Early on Thursday morning, members of the GRRC arrived at their temporary headquarters in Churchill Park to prepare for the 9.00 am meeting at the Carpet Mills. From 7.00 am onwards they were continually bombarded with questions from media personnel regarding the front page report in that morning's edition of the Belfast News Letter. The paper's headlines carried a stark warning -

DRUMCREE DEAL AFTER LATE-NIGHT TALKS MARCHERS READY TO HIT ROAD TODAY

The Residents' Coalition issued a statement challenging the veracity of the report and said that no deal had been done which involved them. Other reporters and news crews awaited the three residents delegates as they entered the Ulster Carpet Mills before 9.00 am Despite the fact that this residents was to have remained confidential, it was obvious the media had been tipped off. One television journalist said that his informant had been a Protestant clergyman, but refused to name him.

The three residents delegates, Breandan Mac Cionnaith, Joanna Termyson and Eamon Stack entered the building at 9.00 am and were met by Archbishop Eames and Cardinal Daly. Dr. Eames ushered the three into a room on their own and said there would be a slight delay in starting.

Archbishop Eames came into the room about 9.30 am and explained that there would be a further delay as the format of the meeting and other arrangements were still to be finalised. He did not specify what these arrangements were, and left after a few moments, again leaving the three residents' delegates alone. He did not inform them of the presence of the leaders of the Methodist or Presbyterian Churches.

At around 10.20 am, Archbishop Eames returned. The time lag in actually commencing the meeting was beginning to arouse the residents' suspicions, particularly in view of the media reports that morning. He apologised for the delay but said that he now had the names of the three Orange delegates. The first was that of Denis Watson, the Grand Master for all of County Armagh and also a member of the Orange Order's ruling body, the Grand Lodge of Ireland. While Dr. Eames was able to give the other two names, he was unable to say where exactly they were from or who they were representing.

The Garvaghy delegates pointed out to Archbishop Eames that the meeting was supposed to be only with delegates of Portadown District. That was the position which had been agreed to the evening before. They put it to Archbishop Eames that if such a senior member of the Order was going to participate in the meeting, it was quite likely that it would be the Grand Lodge's intention to use any possible outcome or agreement in other areas which had contentious marches. As such it would only be correct that other effected communities, similar to the Garvaghy Road, should also be consulted with. It was either that option or else the Orange delegates should only be confined to solely those from Portadown. The Archbishop accepted what had been agreed to the previous evening. However, the Garvaghy delegates stated that it was not an insurmountable obstacle. Dr. Eames then left. He had been with the residents for just over five minutes.

The movement of a large number of British Army armoured personnel carriers past the building caused further concern, and the delegates contacted the other members of the Coalition to find out what was happening. They were told all was quiet, and nothing untoward appeared to going on. Nevertheless, they would report back using the extension number quoted to the delegates.

At approximately 10.40 am, two clergymen, one Catholic and the other Church of Ireland, who were assisting the four Church leaders entered the room. No further information was forthcoming regarding the other two Orange delegates, but it was hoped that the meeting would be soon under way. The Catholic clergyman also told the delegates that Archbishop Eames' personal secretary had made it known that "a security announcement" by the RUC Chief Constable was to be made within the next hour, but that nothing sinister should be taken from that.

Once more on their own, the delegates used the mobile phone to contact their colleagues and give them this information. Given the delay in the commencement of the meeting, it was the delegates' view that only one "security announcement" could be possibly made and that the rest of the Coalition members should start making this fact known within the community. They also asked that transport be made available to pick them up at the Carpet factory, should that prove necessary. It was growing abundantly clear that the whole idea of a meeting had been a complicated ploy to lull Nationalists into a false sense of security, and an attempt to ensure that their community's leadership was kept out of the way.

At just after 11.00 am, the delegates received telephoned reports of major RUC movements at Drumcree Road. They then asked to speak to the Church leaders. The residents then entered the room where the churchmen were and informed them that they were leaving and returning to Churchill Park. They stated that, in their opinion, the meeting had been a complete sham. On leaving the building, the residents' delegates were told that the Orange representatives had already left earlier. At no stage were the residents ever informed of this fact.

The leadership of the GRRC had been cut off from the community and only discovered by chance that the RUC were moving in to seal off the Garvaghy Road. By the time the three reached Churchill Park, the RUC was already preparing to force the Orangemen through the area. As a result of the delegates hurriedly informing the community of the new situation, several hundred local residents congregated on the Garvaghy Road, with a large force of RUC personnel in full riot gear less than fifty yards away from them. One member of the Residents' Coalition, Joe Duffy, who had asked to talk to a senior RUC officer, was hit by a police baton and suffered a concussion and a head wound. He was later hospitalized. His was to be the first of many injuries received at the hands of the RUC that day.

Many local people were enraged at the RUC and Government's complete and utter capitulation to the Orangemen's demands and threats of force. They also knew that the next minutes were not going to be easy. Determined to maintain their rights and their dignity, and showing that they, at least, refused to accept or succumb to the dominance of the Orange Order, as one body they sat down on the roadway and chanted their defiance at the Order, the Government and its' forces: "No Sectarian Marches, No Sectarian Marches".

Chief Superintendent McCreesh approached the residents' spokesperson in order to talk to him. Mr. McCreesh's first words were "I had no part in this - I'm only carrying out orders". He was told the Nazi SS had once used the same excuse and the conversation was closed. A few minutes later Mr. McCreesh approached the sit-down protesters. His attempts to speak were drowned by locals chanting "SS RUC". In response, he turned around and waved his blackthorn stick at the men under his command.

It was the order for the RUC to commence one of the worst displays of sectarian thuggery witnessed since 1969. Age or sex did not matter as hundreds of RUC men, heavily clad with body armour, mercilessly attacked the protesters from three sides. Men, women and children were assaulted and dragged screaming from the roadway and thrown behind a row of armoured landrovers.

Wooden RUC batons crashed into the limbs and skulls of others. Even hardened journalists were repulsed at what they bore witness to, as the crack of breaking arms and legs could be heard clearly. In a few minutes, the road was clear and sealed off by a double line of landrovers. In those few minutes at least fifty people had suffered broken limbs, head wounds and were in need of medical treatment.

But the RUC's orgy of violence had not ended. When the Orange march victoriously turned from Drumcree Road onto the Garvaghy Road, the drumbeats were the signal for yet another needless attack by the RUC. As men, women and children stood about still reeling from the shock caused by the viciousness of the RUC's first assault and while others treated the injured, two lines of RUC men with shields and batons charged the residents again. Beating them into the estate, the RUC commenced firing continuously while a small group of youth fired stones. There followed completely indiscriminate volleys of plastic baton rounds, causing even more injuries.

Among the wounded was a Canadian press photographer, hit on the shoulder by a plastic bullet. Other press photographers, reporters and television news crews were forced out of the area by the RUC to prevent them recording the brutality meted out on a community whose only crime was their refusal to acquiesce to the triumphalist and sectarian parades of the Orange Order. Indeed one RUC man was heard quite clearly on television telling his colleagues to "Get that scum out of here" as one camera crew was frogmarched out of the area. A Catholic priest who tried to remonstrate with the RUC was verbally abused by members of this "impartial and professional police force".

As the march passed and made its' way towards the town centre where thousands of loyalists had gathered, shock and disbelief on the Garvaghy Road turned to fury as Nationalist youths ineffectually tried to respond to the RUC's actions by throwing anything on which they could lay their hands.

It was the beginning of a fury that spread throughout the entire island, which united behind a trampled, bloodied but dignified community, and which outrightly condemned the British Government and those forces under its' control. It was an understandable reaction to a series of events which was vividly described by one mother of three children from Churchill Park when she said, "This community, the Garvaghy Road community, was raped".

Peaceful protesters had been subjected by four days of terror and intimidation only to be subject to a disgraceful display of state violence. This provided a violent backlash which left a second person dead (in Derry). A week later the community was brought back to the power of peaceful political protest by a rally which saw 4000 visitors join the 6,000 residents in a silent walk through their area.

The hurt continued when comments and statements made later by the British Prime Minister, the Secretary of State and the RUC Chief Constable sought to distort the truth and to apportion blame for those events upon the Catholic/Nationalist community. It would only further compound the injustices against this community to allow those remarks to go unchallenged.

Barry Cowan of Radio Ulster's Seven Days programme on Saturday July 13, conducted an in-depth interview with the RUC Chief Constable, Hugh Annesley. On Monday July 15, British Prime Minister, John Major was interviewed on the BBC panorama programme by David Dimbleby.

Chief Constable Annesley - "The failure and the violence of Drumcree lies squarely on the shoulders of the Portadown Orange Lodge and on the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition who between them had over one year to sort out whether or not the march should go down"

John Major - "I think the Garvaghy Road residents were unreasonable in the way they refused to discuss and to compromise for a long time on how a peaceful march, a peaceful march could have passed through Garvaghy Road."

They failed to recognise the gesture of compromise made by the residents one year previously. Neither did they recognise the disgraceful manner in which that compromise was mistreated and abused by the Orange Order and by Unionist politicians. They also failed to recognise the reasonable grounds on which a minority community in Portadown are justified is withholding consent to the Drumcree parade passing through the heart of their area.

Both men ignored the fact that the Residents' Coalition worked for over a year to reach a resolution of the marching issue in Portadown. That fact has been confirmed by independent mediators who helped broker the '95 compromise, and who tried unsuccessfully on the GRRC's behalf to open direct dialogue with the Orange Order. For twelve months the Orange Order refused to meet the residents. So too did the local MP David Trimble and the Secretary Of State. This fact is also supported by the comments of Cardinal Cathal Daly on Thursday July 11 1996 when he said that the GRRC "tried very hard over twelve months to find a reasonable solution to this year's march through dialogue and agreement. Their repeated requests for meetings and dialogue were spurned."

Both men totally ignored the Mediation Network statement of July 12, 1996, which stated that the RUC had assured them in July 1995 that "there would be no further marches on Garvaghy Road without the residents' consent".

The Mediation Network also said "During the past year our efforts (at mediation) have been hindered by the inability of the Orange Order to recognise the bona fides of residents' groups such as the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition".

Annesley - "There was no political interference with me either at the beginning, in the middle or at the end. There was no interference with me from the Northern Ireland Office, from the Prime Minister."
Major - "It is not for ministers to instruct the Chief Constable on how to handle a matter dealing with control on the streets. He is the professional at that, not the Secretary, of State or any other minister"

Why then did NIO officials acting on behalf of the Government meet with the GRRC on Wednesday July 10, seeking, on behalf of that same Government, "to put Orange feet on Garvaghy Road"?

Did Annesley and Major expect anyone to believe that there was no Governmental input in the decision to force through the march on July 11? A decision which Cardinal Daly described as being "clearly taken for political reasons".

Annesley - "I would not have traded one life for the Garvaghy Road."

One man's life had already been traded: - that of 31 year old Michael McGoldrick, murdered by loyalist paramilitaries acting in support of the Orange Order at Drumcree. Hours before Annesley's interview was broadcast, another life was traded for the Garvaghy Road: -that of 35 year old Dermot McShane in Derry, crushed beneath a British Army Saxon carrier.

One unmistakeable reality is that the events of July 7-11 could have been avoided. In the year prior to July 96, the Garvaghy Road Residents' Coalition made many attempts to enter into a genuine dialogue with the Orange Order. All those attempts were spurned and rejected. Even the local MP and Unionist Party Leader, David Trimble, who should have known better, opted to "ride the wild horses of hatred and sectarianism" (Irish Times Editorial July 13 1995) rather than enter into dialogue to resolve this issue. The British Secretary of State also saw "no useful purpose" in discussing the matter with local residents.

The Orange Order lost any right to parade with its symbols and emblems down the Garvaghy Road by its triumphalist behaviour after 1995 and its refusal to meet the only representatives of the local community on this issue. How can a small community, that has to shoulder more than its fair share of deprivation, stand up to the combined forces of the Orange Order, the unionist parties and loyalist extremists? How can its voice be heard? The media have been of tremendous help by portraying the ugly reality. But ultimately it is up to the state and the forces of law and order to protect all the citizens.

It is that lack of will by the State which was demonstrated clearly on July 10 at the meeting which took place between British Government representatives and the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition. Those Government officials did not seek to reassure residents that they would be afforded the same full protection of their rights by the State and all its' forces as people living in Surrey or Sussex would expect to be afforded.

No. Those same Government officials preferred to see "Orange feet on Garvaghy Road" irrespective of the protection of whatever rights the people of Garvaghy were entitled to. In return, the Government would institute "a fully independent review of the marching phenomenon, not just in Portadown, but in Northern Ireland as a whole". Little wonder such an offer was rejected. If their rights to live peacefully within in their own neighbourhood could not be protected in July, how would a "review of the marching phenomenon" protect their rights in the future?

It is up to the state to give special concern for the minorities and the deprived. Alas there was an abysmal failure to do so in the Drumcree crisis of 1996.

The 1996 Drumcree crisis has resulted, directly and indirectly, in three deaths, in a feeling of rage and outrage of the minority tradition in Northern Ireland, and a small deprived community reeling from a week of Orange Order terror tactics and from being humiliated by the police. Maybe this experience will bring to the attention of all what is at the heart of the matter - It is not the marches, it is not the banners or the bands, it is not the numbers taking part that is the problem - the problem is the Orange Order itself as an overtly sectarian and political organisation that places itself above the law. At least this year there was no march allowed.

But the fat lady hasn't sang yet, I fear.

Throughout its' history, the Order has been chiefly concerned with the maintenance of the superiority and dominance of one section of the population over the other. Many people, including churchmen and other members of the Protestant community, have recognised this fact. Some governments even tried in vain to suppress the Orange organisation in the last century to no avail. Those attempts failed, not because of a lack of effective legislation, but because of the lack of a political will by Governments to properly implement that legislation effectively. July 1996 was no different from other years in that respect.

When the Prime Minister and his Northern Secretary denied that there had been any Governmental input into the decision to force the march along the Garvaghy Road on July 11th 1996, they were being economic with the truth. After all, NIO officials met the Residents' Coalition on the Government's behalf on July 10th and proposed exactly that which the Government would make public in the House of Commons 24 hours later.

The scepticism that a review body would secure the rights of Portadown Nationalists is well-founded - a review body that was originally put forward to secure "Orange feet on Garvaghy Road" irrespective of the wishes of the overwhelming majority of those who live there.

The only really significant statement that the Independent Review Body of Parades and Marches could report to the British Government is that until such times as some Government is prepared to admit to and then redress the sectarian influence of the Loyal Orders in Six County state, and their ability to undermine the legal justice system, the problems they create could well prove to remain an annual affliction.

In light of the events of this year, and of previous years, it is an unacceptable, unjustifiable and unnecessary affliction which this community does not wish to have visited upon it again. Two alternative routes do exist for the Orange Order to march to and from Drumcree. The first is from the town centre via Corcrain Road, Charles St., and Dungannon Road, returning by that route. The second is from the town centre via Loughgall Road, Corcullentragh and across to the Drumcree Road, again returning by this same route.

The first is the route put forward by the GRRC since 1995 as an acceptable compromise. Even though the march passes Catholic homes and a Catholic Church as it goes along Charles Street and the Dungannon Road this is regarded by this community as the least contentious of the routes through the Nationalist/Catholic area of Portadown. When this compromise was proposed it was sincerely believed that this route offered a comparable level of dignity to both the Orange Order members and the Catholic/Nationalist Community. However, given what occurred this year, particularly in the aftermath of many loyalist attacks on homes along this route, it may be difficult to convince many Nationalists that even this compromise affords them real dignity.

Thank you for reading this.p> B.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Story of Drumcree
From: Bagpuss
Date: 12 Jul 00 - 10:07 AM

Brenda - why the essay? Its too long for many folks here to read. Its fair enough that you want to explain in more depth the issues in NI - especially after some other threads here lately, but I just think that its too long for a forum like this. Maybe you could have put your views across more briefly, and it might have turned into a discussion that raised many of the points you raised. Who knows?

If I'm wrong, and people do read all of it - Sorry!!

Bagpuss


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Story of Drumcree
From: Brendy
Date: 12 Jul 00 - 10:43 AM

Thanks for your 'thoughts', Bugpiss

B.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Story of Drumcree
From: Wolfgang
Date: 12 Jul 00 - 10:48 AM

Well, I've read most of the text above, and large parts of Conrad's links on the NO SURRENDER thread. For me, who loves to know the truth if ever possible, it is saddening how impossible it seems to find out truth from reading such accounts. Read, e.g., about the Battle of the Diamond from both sides and you think you read about completely different battles.
In most cases, the assault on truth comes from omission. Just one single example (from the text above, but there are abundant examples in the Orange texts as well): "the now desceased Billy Wright" . Actually, he was murdered by the INLA (they called it 'execution' in their statement claiming responsibility). Language is used as just another weapon in this conflict.
So, if you read this, you should know that you are not reading The Story of Drumcree, but A Story of Drumcree.
Thanks, nevertheless, Brendy, for posting this story. But, assuming you did not write it (sorry, if that assumption is wrong), which source does it come from? To know the source often helps me in my attempts to approach the truth.

Wolfgang


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Story of Drumcree
From: Bagpuss
Date: 12 Jul 00 - 10:54 AM

Brendy, my "thoughts" were well intentioned. I'm sorry if you didn't perceive them as such. And if you are just trolling, then sod off!

Theres no need for name calling.

Bagpuss


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Story of Drumcree
From: Brendy
Date: 12 Jul 00 - 11:13 AM

History, Wolfgang, as you may well know, is largely the realm of the victor, and the difference between A story, and The story can depend on which tabloid newspaper you care to read.

You will notice that I quoted from British Government ministers, members of the Orange Order, Magistrates of the British Crown, recognised authorities such as Freeman's Journal, etc.

What or whom would you have me quote?

I mentioned Billy Wright (King Rat) only in the context that he was the original 'Johnny Adair' and had met David Trimble, who then conveyed a death threat to the Secretary of State; and I correctly stated that he was dead.

Look, I'm bushed after all the goings on, and the collecting of my thoughts for all of the above.

I'll get back into this when I'm in better form.

B.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Story of Drumcree
From: InOBU
Date: 12 Jul 00 - 11:52 AM

Brenny Abu!
Jeeze! It is great to see someone take the time to put a scholarly history up in answer to the often expressed opinion without fact. Now after this heroic effort, lets not sink into name calling all around Bagpus, Wolfgang, Brenny, lets all have a shake and have a good think about things. We are at a liminal point in Irish history, and there is going to be changes one way or the other. Let's hope that the traditional music community will keep to its historic role of being the informers of change, and to do so, we need the input of those who will take the time to do the hard work Brenny has done, and we even need a bit of the sand paper of Conrad to expose the puss and infection. No offence Conrad - but I do think of Brendan as the anti-biotic (anti bigotic?) to the seeping wound of Orange hatred.
Slan agus go raith maith agut, Brenny
Larry


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Story of Drumcree
From: Brendy
Date: 12 Jul 00 - 11:57 AM

Thanks, Larry.

And Bags and Wolfgang - sorry if I seemed a bit sharp.

I'm just about drained.

Sorry again.

B.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Story of Drumcree
From: Fiolar
Date: 12 Jul 00 - 01:27 PM

Brendy A fantastic job. Perhaps if the individuals who go off half-cocked about Irish history and parade half truths in the media or in some cases downright lies took some time to read your report, they would learn something. I follow with interest the reports of the various occurences in the six counties. Sadly only a tiny part of the British press reports any of the facts.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Story of Drumcree
From: Wolfgang
Date: 12 Jul 00 - 01:56 PM

for further reading:
Letter from the Orange Order to the Catholic Residents of the Garvaghy Road, 4 June 1997
Letter from Garvaghy Road Residents to the Portadown Orange Lodges 11 June 1997
The Parades Commission's Determination in Relation to the Drumcree Church Parade on 5 July 1998

Wolfgang


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Story of Drumcree
From: Brendy
Date: 12 Jul 00 - 02:12 PM

For further, further, reading

B.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Story of Drumcree
From: GUEST,Ewan McVicar
Date: 12 Jul 00 - 02:21 PM

I'm almost lost for words. I cannot get any kind of hold on the information here.

Extreme concern about the detail of who said what to who in 19 canteen will be the heat-death of all of us.

More is less. A story is a story. The truth is by and large a matter of opinion. A more informed opinion is usually a help, but an overlaod of information shuts down the receptors.

By the way, I already know my names rhyme with spewing and knicker - I found that out when I was small.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Story of Drumcree
From: catspaw49
Date: 12 Jul 00 - 02:31 PM

Christ on a crutch...................I got started after a long load wait and read it through. Sorry Bagpuss, sometimes I'm a bit compulsive that way. And I don't want to offend anyone in this case, but Wolfgang has made the salient point...........All history is philosophy. To say things are factual requires collaborative effort and painstaking research and attention to detail. Though I may tend to want to agree with Brendy and others, I also share a fear alluded to in the Bagpuss post----What's next? Will Conrad feel compelled to treat us to an equal amount? Will there be yet another long debate with even more and longer (is that possible) posts?

Wouldn't it be possible to link this stuff instead of having this much here? I read Wolfgang's links simply because I was interested and anyone interested can easily click and read, then comment.

I'm not flaming you Brendy, but you have an entire website posted on this thread!!!! I hope this doesn't catch on.

Spaw


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Story of Drumcree
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 12 Jul 00 - 02:45 PM

Thanks Brendy for getting it all together - I've put a trace on so I can read it properly.

I can't see Spaw's worries about this as a genral practice are likely to become reality, putting it on another website and sticking a link to it would be a lot easier to do generally.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Story of Drumcree
From: Brendy
Date: 12 Jul 00 - 03:00 PM

Sorry Spaw.

One thing just led to another, you know how it goes. However, "To say things are factual requires collaborative effort and painstaking research and attention to detail."

That's why the damn thing was so long. That's what I was trying to do

B.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Story of Drumcree
From: InOBU
Date: 12 Jul 00 - 03:31 PM

Wolfgang my friend:
Would you endorce the right of neo nazi's to march through Juruslem to commemorate the efficency of Auswitz? Even if they said that they would behave themselves? Where do we get the notion that bigots have a right to intimidate their victems? If the bigots want to parade their bigotry, let them do it in their own back yard, on the shankel road, right under the big painting of king billy. Free speach does not include the right to shout fire in a theatre or sig hiel in a temple.
Larry


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Story of Drumcree
From: Roger in Sheffield
Date: 12 Jul 00 - 03:49 PM

Brendy do you feel better for getting all that out??
started reading and then realised how long it was!!
it has been suggested that a printout might be easier to read so printing it off now

Roger


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Story of Drumcree
From: catspaw49
Date: 12 Jul 00 - 03:56 PM

Brendy my friend, that wasn't meant as an insult. I am greatly impressed with the work you have put in and its educational to say the VERY least!!!

ALL history is colored (good word in this case huh?) by the author's perspective and as I read your post(?) I am taken by the notion that although your loyalties are well known, the text is pretty well "bias free." That's not easy. But at the same time, I could take issue on a few points that I would like to see more on before I decided whether or not you were accurate or "colored." But that's not the point here. Our 'buddy' Conrad often comes off as being without bias in his phrasing, but is easily refuted. Ewan said that at times less is more and there is truth in that too. I hate to see someone like Conrad launch into one of his harangues suitably couched in PC bullshit and then be believed because he has equalled your words if not your scholarship.

Aw, forget it.......I'm making a point the hard way....You have done a great job and my only wish is that you had put it on a site of its own. Its well worth the read and after a long first reading, I too have traced it to go back and try to digest.

Thanks.....But don't do it again!!!***BG***

Spaw


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Story of Drumcree
From: Bagpuss
Date: 12 Jul 00 - 04:05 PM

Brendy, apology accepted.

I wish I could hear those words more often in this world. I wasn't taking issue with anything you said, I was just a bit annoyed when I clicked on what looked like an interesting 3 post (ie short) thread, and it took for ever to download. Maybe Im just a concise person, but I like to give my brief views and if anyone is interested, or wants to take issue, then we can discuss it further and bring in any evidence that is relevant.

But I know my way is not the only way.

And I wouldnt have minded the name calling, except that Bagpuss is my great hero!

Bagpuss


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Story of Drumcree
From: Brendy
Date: 12 Jul 00 - 07:16 PM

The history of the Orange Order; the facts that are not often brought to light, but are still facts, need to come out as well. I hadn't read Conrad's thread when I posted it. I did that out in 'Word, and cut and pasted it in. I had no idea of how much space it would take off. I started in 1795 and I took in 200 years.

There are many who will say that less is best, or whatever, and I agree with them, to an extent. Even if I wanted to, though, I couldn't have put all of that into a screen sized frame.

There's an amazing amount of reasons and theories abounding, and what I said to Wolfgang up there, is not wrong. History has a tendency to be created by whoever is it's guardian. Why can that same premise be at least considered when we speak of an organisation that defined the practice of Freemasonry

And I take Spaw's point. It should have been on a website. But my literacy, alas, does not take me down the avenue that leads to web page publishing. At least not in the short term. I think I would find it less of a hassle were I to do the same again except with the Eleven Years Tyranny as the subject matter.

But I wanted people to at least consiider it as being from a person who is from the place, and knows the inner workings of that town from a first hand level. I am (was born) a Catholic, but I grew up on the other side of town. So it is not necessarily my story

It is not 'A' story, however. It is a history. And as Spaw has graciously pointed out, I replayed a lot of that pain, and pent-up frustration, but I had to try to be objective about the whole thing as much as possible.

What is at the very nub of the debate about the Garvaghy Road, the Lower Ormeau Road, in Belfast, and other flashpoints, is the rights of the minority.

The rights of the minority to live in peace. They don't want to fight. They want to be left alone. They are not banging on the door of the Chief Constable demanding their right to march right in to the middle of Protestant Portadown.

Had any of you lived in such a situation, you may be able to understand this. When my father used to screw the wooden window shutters that were lined with Plate Steel to the inside of our windows at night - not one night in the year - 365 of them, block up the letter-box and triple lock the Front Door, we thought this as normal.

That's the reality of the situation, and it has been, as I have noted already on this page continuing since long before the Orange Order came about.

The reason for it's length?

A man's gotta say what a man's gotta say, I guess

B.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Story of Drumcree
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 12 Jul 00 - 08:55 PM

Brendy, my congratulations on an excellent piece of scholarship. You use the facts to make a very convincing argument for your point of view.

LEJ


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Story of Drumcree
From: alison
Date: 12 Jul 00 - 09:43 PM

Thanks for the hard work Brendy, and for letting people know a lot of things they would otherwise not have known

slainte

alison


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Story of Drumcree
From: Brendy
Date: 12 Jul 00 - 10:37 PM

Kevin (McGrath of Harlow) has very kindly put the text up on a website ***Here***

Again, folks, thanks for the kind words

B.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Story of Drumcree
From: Big Mick
Date: 12 Jul 00 - 10:57 PM

Brendy,

I would normally be in the middle of any debate on this point. But your work demands that those of us who debate this on the basis of upbringing and examination of facts from all points of view, and from a place far away, be quiet and ponder what you and those who will respond to you in a very respectful way. No place for slogans here. This is not an attempt to silence debate from those of us who have strong beliefs from afar. Rather a request that we shelve all the preconceived notions that we have and hear the voices of those who live this. Neither Conrad nor I need recite Orange Order/Republican Sinn Fein rhetoric. It might be better to just ask questions and listen to answers. Of all the threads on the troubles that I have seen to date, this one represents the best chance for true understanding. Please, my friends, let it be so. Let us use this one to find common ground. As I always say, the children of Ireland deserve this.

Big Mick


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Story of Drumcree
From: rangeroger
Date: 12 Jul 00 - 11:02 PM

Wow.As I was reading todays paper,there was a picture of a young boy,maybe 8 or 10 years old, with bonfires in the background,screaming out imprecations at someone.All I could think of, is what has this boys parents taught him? He doesn't understand a bit of what he is yelling. He is only parroting what his elders have been saying. And so much hate.
How can anyone grow up with that much hate in them.
All because Henry VIII wanted a different wife.
rr


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Story of Drumcree
From: catspaw49
Date: 12 Jul 00 - 11:31 PM

Well rr........Hatred is a helluva thing ain't it? Bigotry, racism, chauvinism........Its learned behavior just as love is learned behavior. Mick's fine point about Brendy's most wonderful post (and thank you Kevin for the website too) says the children of Ireland deserve this. He couldn't be more right, yet breaking the chain is hard. But everyone starts somewhere.

The picture you mention? Could it be a young child in pre-war Germany whose parents were nazis? Could it be a youngster in Little Rock in '57 or Memphis in '68? Ever seen those pictures of the tiny tots dressed in Klan robes? We owe it to the children of Ireland and we owe it to the children of the world.

Wouldn't it be great if in this new century we could see an end to the ancient hatreds? Maybe we even stop a few newer ones too. It could happen......its still up to us, and we haven't lost the battle yet, although I can understand the depression when you see young children filled with hatred. Anytime. Anywhere.

Spaw


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Story of Drumcree
From: paddymac
Date: 13 Jul 00 - 12:16 AM

Well done Brendy, and thank you for your scholarship. Here's a view of the last week and a half.

LITANY OF VIOLENCE But as darkness fell last night, road-blockings held by women and children moved away and paramilitaries took over. Some of the worst of the Night of the Eleventh flared on the Corcrain estate, Portadown, where a crowd burned effigies of an RUC man and a "Fenian" and showered the security forces with stones, blast bombs and petrol bombs. Yesterday, a bomb was thrown from a car into a pub in the nationalist village of Dunloy, County Antrim and another was discovered in the grounds of an Ancient Order of Hibernians' Hall in Rusharkin. Both failed to explode. A woman and her six-year-old child escaped injury when a brick was hurled through their car window at Finaghy Road North in Belfast. There were two attempts to burn down Catholic churches in County Antrim -- St Mary's Church in Glenarm and the Catholic chapel in Ballyclare. In a reprisal by nationalists, an Orange Hall at Aghalee was attacked by petrol bombs at midnight. A number of people were in the building at the time, three of whom were taken to hospital suffering from smoke inhalation. Yesterday afternoon, shops and businesses in Belfast, Portadown, Lurgan, Ballymoney, Kilrea, Coleraine, Downpatrick and Lisburn were forced to close under the threat of more trouble by loyalists. A Dungannon restaurant was badly damaged in a petrol bomb attack, while a tyre depot in Armagh was hit by a similar attack. Six lorries and a storage unit were damaged in a malicious fire started in a Dungannon mushroom factory. Tyres were set alight at the rear of a filling station on the Belfast Road in Ballynahinch, causing damage to a shed and garden furniture. Four cars and the facade of a petrol station which doubled as a car showroom suffered in a malicious fire on the Dublin Road in Omagh. A number of cars, a van, a lorry, and even a milk float were taken and set on fire in Derry, Craigavon, Dromore, Newtownabbey, Antrim, Derriaghy and Bushmills. The Larne road at Ballynure was closed by a mob of 300 loyalists who blocked it with a barricade and managed to spill 45 gallons of oil across it. Just after midnight, security forces and the fire brigade were petrol bombed during disturbances in Dromore, County Down. Petrol bombs were also hurled at a Catholic church on the Doagh Road, Ballyclare, causing scorch damage to a hall adjacent to the chapel. One person was arrested following the attack, which occurred at 1.40am. In Carrickfergus two houses had windows broken by stone throwers. In Belfast, a blast bomb was thrown at around 1am. No injuries were reported, although minor damage was caused to a police vehicle. The RUC reported seven shots fired at an RUC vehicle at the junction of Templemore Avenue and Albertbridge Road in east Belfast. No one was injured. Petrol bombs were thrown on the Ravenhill Road in the city, at Drumcree and on the West Circular Road in Bangor. More were thrown on Irish Street in Derry. Drumcree Hill, where Orangemen are gathered in protest at not being allowed to march through the Garvaghy Road, has been surprisingly quiet. There have been small numbers there for the past two nights, although it is predicted that violence might resume as Orangemen return from today's County Armagh rally at Killylea. The RUC said that over the past ten days, seventy-seven homes, 55 commercial premises and 358 vehicles have been damaged, and 88 vehicles hijacked. But only 72 people have been charged -- an average of just over seven per night. ------------------------------------ It makes me marvel at the dedication and committment of the IRA to maintain its ceasefire.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Story of Drumcree
From: paddymac
Date: 13 Jul 00 - 01:00 AM

My apologies to all. I inadvertently left off the source of the "summation" in my post above. This is it. _______________________________________________________ c. RM Distribution and others. Articles may be reprinted with credit.

RM Distribution Irish Republican News and Information http://irlnet.com/rmlist/ PO Box 160, Galway, Ireland Phone/Fax: (353)1-6335113 PO Box 8630, Austin TX 78713, USA mailto:rmlist-reply@irlnet.com _______________________________________________________


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Story of Drumcree
From: The Shambles
Date: 13 Jul 00 - 03:56 AM

Thank you Brendy. It was what you felt you had to say here and even if it had taken 20 posts to say it, so be it. Maybe it should be considered as required reading, before anyone expresses an opinion on this subject?

It clearly demonstrates that it is not just simply a question of the right to march, as some would have us accept. In truth I feel that the majority of world opinion does not see it those terms anyway. Which only increases the resolve of those who do make this claim.

I can only hope that this current display of the 'monster', in us all, is 'the last roar of the dinosaur, as it marches to extinction'. The Last Roar.

The losers in all this, as usual are the folk of Ireland, who are again being forced to take sides and especially the good folk who just happen to be born into the Unionist side and are now, all being tarred with the same bigoted orange brush.

The good people are being severely tested, by the irresponsible and worse. It is how they respond to this testing that will decide the fate of the 'dinosaur'.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Story of Drumcree
From: GUEST,Den at work
Date: 13 Jul 00 - 10:34 AM

Brendy you owe my employers an hour of lost work. I read your entire post and I admire you for your objectivity and the ammount of research you put into this. It would have been easy to turn this into a good guy catholic and a bad guy protestant thing but I think you have shown very clearly for anyone who actually takes the time to read this marvelous essay just where the root of the problem lies.

I too come from N. Ireland and I don't usually enter into many of the debates concerning my homeland that have become an annual event around here. Usually they just turn into mud slinging matches and that in my oppinion does not serve any purpose.

I thought for a long time that there would never be peace back home the hatred was too intense and the scars of division ran too deep. But I think (and hope) that change will come. The decent people of NI in two seperate occasions have said that they want peace. There is no place in the new NI for the others and they now know the writing is on the wall.

I was born 3 miles from Kilkeel which is a predominately loyalist town and I know what it is like to live under the Orange shadow. The funny thing is though that I attended the protestant high school to complete my "A" levels (University entrance exams) because the closest Catholic school that offered "A" level was in Newry 25 miles away. While I was there the local unionist MP organized a rally to get the taigs (catholics) out of the school. There were about 8 of us at the time. Parents, students and local officials marched around the playing fields with placards that read taigs out. I remember standing in the school watching all this. I turned to the guy standing next to me who happened to be protestant class mate and said to him, "so what do you think." and he replied, "fuckin' edjits," and I thought well there is hope. This student and I remained friends for years we supported the same football team, liked the same music, the only difference between us was our religion and that never became a problem.

So the long and the short of it is I think that maybe there is a glimmer of hope. While peace lasts and some prosperity comes to the place and it becomes less polarized and people find work and have a little more money in their pockets they will not want to return to the way things were. I am not naive to be talking the short term here but I can see a little bit of it here and there and we can all live in hope, sometimes that's all we have. So for the children of NI no matter their religion I pray to God that their day will come. Den


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Story of Drumcree
From: Penny S.
Date: 16 Jul 00 - 04:45 PM

Brendy, I am slowly getting through this, and had to let you know how much I appreciate it.

Penny


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Story of Drumcree
From: Big Mick
Date: 16 Jul 00 - 05:09 PM

Thanks, Den, for a wonderful and insightful post. I am most impressed with Brendys scholorship, but the story of your growing years provided a key insight. I am grateful for your having wrote it.

All the best,

Mick


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Story of Drumcree
From: Dave (the ancient mariner)
Date: 16 Jul 00 - 05:18 PM

Dear Den. Lets hope that all the "fuckin ejidts" learn to love all children more than they hate other. Pray God we could all live together in peace soon. Yours(Like your friend from the Loyalist side of the road) Dave


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Story of Drumcree
From: GUEST,RobinKarel
Date: 16 Jul 00 - 05:38 PM

Thank you for your thoughtful and detailed history of the situation. I think I may speak for many in the U.S.A. who applaud the decision to "Just Say No" to the Orange Order and their parades.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Story of Drumcree
From: Bill D
Date: 16 Jul 00 - 06:28 PM

todays Washington Post.....This woman has written a book about it

she has a unique viewpoint


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Story of Drumcree
From: Sorcha
Date: 16 Jul 00 - 06:33 PM

Thank you Brendy. And, let's just all pray (to Whom/What Ever) for the future and the children.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Story of Drumcree
From: Brendy
Date: 17 Jul 00 - 05:32 AM

Thanks paddymac for the updates of this years' celebrations. The reason I didn't get into this year, was (a) the text was already long enough and (b) as I was going through it, I saw blatantly staring up from the page at me, that each year was much like any other year, and I hoped people would make the same deduction themselves.
For if there is one string that weaves it's way through the narrative, it is the predictable sequence of events, year after year. When I was a kid; you might remember this too, Paddy and Den, the effigy of Billy Lundy used to be burned on the Eleventh Night bonfires (as the author of the article linked to above in Bill's post remembers). The obligatory effigy has changed over the years; this year an RUC man, but the 'song' remains the same.

And Den, you can tell your employers that "I'll see them on Thursday" *BG*
I take it it is 'Violet Hill' in Newry that you're talking about, and indeed, I know that (in my day) entrance to that school was a coveted thing as they used to be inundated with requests from 'outlying areas' for places.
I was 'lucky'; the Christian Brothers in Armagh (Greenpark) had the pleasure of my company until I shifted to Drumcree High School (St. Malachy's) in 1973.

To get into the story of my experiences of Portadown from 1968 until 1983 (when my 'travels' began) would take more presence of mind than what I have to offer at the minute, and would lead me into some very strange, and some very surreal places.
One of my brothers', ages ago, suggested that I write a book.

The ultimate casting out of demons?

I don't know if I'm ready for it yet. I think I will have to let back in, some stuff I have successfully let go.

Anyway, thanks to everyone for taking the time, in the first place, to read the whole thing, and also for posting your encouraging comments.

B.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Story of Drumcree
From: GUEST,Den
Date: 17 Jul 00 - 11:05 AM

You're right Brendy it was Violet Hill. I'm glad however that I did attend the protestant school. It give me insight that I would never otherwise have gained and I think that my protestant class mates learned things that they normally would not. Another encouraging footnote is that I was recently tracked down (here in Canada) by one of my former protestant class mates to be invited to the schools 20 year reunion. We talked on the phone for quite a while and now correspond with e-mail. I didn't attend the reunion because the timing was not good for me, but I would have loved to have gone if I'd been able. So heres to peace and prosperity for all Den.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Story of Drumcree
From: Wolfgang
Date: 27 Apr 01 - 08:48 AM

Another story of Drumcree

Wolfgang


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Story of Drumcree
From: Fibula Mattock
Date: 27 Apr 01 - 10:31 AM

I'll say this for the Foot-and-Mouth - every cloud has a silver lining. A helluva a lot of parades and counter-demonstrations were called off due to it.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Story of Drumcree
From: GUEST,yum yum
Date: 28 Apr 01 - 10:33 AM

well it looks like there will be NO FLUTE IN MOUTH this year again! sorry Fib, couldn't help myself.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
  Share Thread:
More...


This Thread Is Closed.


Mudcat time: 27 November 12:21 PM EST

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.