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30 January 1997 Edition

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Trying to avert Drumcree 3

By Mick Naughton

Nationalist residents of Portadown's Garvaghy Road are to meet Church of Ireland Primate Robin Eames this Saturday 1 February in the latest in a series of meetings aimed at heading off a crisis over this year's Orange march at Drumcree.

Last year Eames was involved in negotiations with residents on the day the RUC attacked nationalist residents in order to force the Orangemen through the small nationalist enclave.

The residents coalition will also meet Fianna Fail leader Bertie Ahern in Dublin on Thursday to press their case for a peaceful settlement.

Last Monday the residents, accompanied by SDLP leader John Hume, met Patrick Mayhew at Stormont Castle.

Calling for support for the residents Sinn Fein councillor Brendan Curran welcomed their efforts and called for an ``agreement to be hammered out. The need to avoid a repetition of last summer's events and the shock waves which are still being felt is obviously paramount and I would stress the importance of meaningful dialogue''.

Last week Portadown Orangemen once again refused to meet the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition spokespersons, including Jesuit Fr Eamon Stack. Orangeman David Jones said the Order had compromised as much as it was going to: ``we have made many changes to the march over the years but what do we get in return?'' he asked, ignoring the residents' call for discussions.

Stack was recently acquitted of charges brought against him by the RUC following a peaceful sitdown protest during Drumcree 1995.

The Residents Coalition said it was deeply disappointed at the Orange Order's negative rejection of dialogue. Spokesperson Breandan MacCionnaith said that 2,000 adult residents had signed a petition supporting the coalition's commitment to use peaceful means to find a lasting and fair resolution to the issue. ``Are they going to keep objecting to our spokespersons until they find someone to say yes to their march?'' he asked.
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An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1
Ireland
 

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