20 August 1998 Edition
Garvaghy intimidation goes on
By Seán O'Tuama
The loyalist harassment of the nationalist residents of the Garvaghy estate in Portadown continued throughout the last week.
On Saturday 15 August a loyalist mob gathered near the Garvaghy Road to protest against the Parade Commission's ruling which banned a proposed march down the road by the Independent Orange Order.
Later that evening, after a ``prayer meeting'', over five hundred loyalists along with a band gathered close to Nationalist homes in the Craigwell area to hurl abuse and threats at the residents. The RUC made no attempt to disperse the mob.
In contrast, on Monday evening, 17 August, worried Nationalist residents assembled in their own estate concerned at Orangemen and loyalists who had gathered at Drumcree church and were parading in the direction of the Garvaghy Road. The residents were confronted by RUC personnel in full riot gear. During the disturbance two hundred loyalists gathered close to Craigwell Avenue, at one stage attempting to overturn an RUC landrover. No arrests were made.
On the following evening a loyalist mob released orange ballons near to the estate.
There was speculation last weekend that a delegation from the Grand Lodge would visit Portadown to speak to the Orange lodge there to call off the intimidation. But, so far, there has been no development on this matter.
Garvaghy Festival defies blockade
By Seán O'Tuama
Despite attempts by the crown forces to disrupt the festival by mounting a roadblock to bar entry to the Garvaghy estate to anyone other than residents on Saturday evening, 15 August, the event was a major success.
Highlights of the weekend included the showing of the film documentary ``War and Peace in Ireland'' which was shown several times to packed houses. The film traces the history of the Republican struggle from the Tan war to the present day. The An Phoblacht photographic exhibition and a display of political wall murals served as a back drop to the film in the local community centre.
Saturday evening saw people turn out in their hundreds for an open air concert and barbeque. However the festive atmosphere was dampened as news filtered through of the Omagh bombing.
Presentations were made at the concert to groups and individuals who had supported the Garvaghy community in their struggle against sectarianism. In particular, the presentations to the Lower Ormeau Road community and to former POW Pat Hackett, who spent twenty years in British prisons and who was a great source of inspiration to many people during his stay in the area during July, were received with tremendous applause.
Sunday was set aside for the children of the area with all kinds of games and activities arranged throughout the day. Members of the Residents coalition volunteered to become targets of a different kind for the afternoon as scores of kids (and quite a few adults!) lined up to throw wet sponges, eggs and anything else they could get their hands on.
The Telling Tales Theatre Company's powerful performance of ``Dare To Dream'' on Sunday evening brought the festivities to a close. The drama which used true stories, music, songs and slides linking the struggles of ordinary people in El Salvador and Ireland was very well received.
All in all a great weekend. Watch out Feile an Phobail - there may be competition out there next year!