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8 October 1998 Edition

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Portadown loyalists ignore Drumcree death

By Laura Friel

Loyalist intimidation in Portadown will continue, according to local Orange Order spokesperson David Jones. Commenting following the death of an RUC officer fatally injured by a blast bomb during a loyalist riot in Portadown last month, Jones said, ``unfortunately when you are standing up for liberties sometimes the cost of these liberties is very high.''

Dismissing calls for an end to protests connected to Drumcree, Jones said Orangemen had warned the Parades Commission ``to be wary'' of the decision they made about Drumcree.

Last week's death brings the number of people killed directly in connection with the loyalist campaign of mass intimidation around Drumcree to six. In recent weeks loyalists have extended their campaign of murder and intimidation in Portadown by attacking Catholic shoppers and fire bombing Catholic owned businesses in the town centre. Catholic residents of the Garvaghy Road now travel outside the town to do their weekly shopping. A march organised by a group of women loyalists which was due to take place on Saturday has been postponed by the organisers following the RUC man's death but is likely to take place at a later date.

A ruling on the parade refused permission to march down the Garvaghy Road but the Parades Commission had given the go ahead for loyalist marchers to pass the Catholic church at a time when local people would be attending evening Mass. The loyalist parade would have taken a route used by Mass goers travelling from Obins Street and other parts of Portadown. Portadown Catholics are fearful that another Harryville scenario may emerge.

The intransigence of the Orange Order has brought about another needless death, said Sinn Fein Assembly member Dara O'Hagan. ``Following the tragic murder of the Quinn children in Ballymoney it was hoped that the Orange Order would rethink its position and enter into direct dialogue with the elected representatives of the nationalist people on the Garvaghy Road,`` said O'Hagan.
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