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11 March 1999 Edition

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More Orange rallies planned for Drumcree

by Dan O'Neill.
As the reign of sectarian terror and intimidation suffered by the residents of Garvaghy Road continues with more Orange protest rallies planned this week, nationalists were pessimistic that a solution could be found to end the stand-off at Drumcree.

Portadown Orangemen called a rally on Wednesday to mark the 250th day of the stand-off addressed by Co Armagh Grand Master Denis Watson and unionist councillors from Craigavon.

This followed last Saturday's march organised by the Women's Response to Drumcree to the County Armagh church.The Orange women's march, which attracted little support, passed close to the nationalist Craigwell Avenue and Garvaghy Road.

Craigavon nationalist councillor, Joe Duffy, said that the Orange Order's planned rallies did not give residents much hope that a solution could be found to end the intimidation of nationalists on Garvaghy Road.

``As far as we are concerned theses rallies are intimidation,'' he said.

``There is usually trouble of some kind when they bring bands in and the people from elsewhere. Unfortunately it is the people living close to these rallies who are the ones that really suffer. It is disgraceful.''

Mr Duffy added, ``this doesn't give us any confidence that the Orange Order are prepared to genuinely come into negotiations.''

Loyalists from across the north have been organising a rota to ensure that there is a presence at Drumcree almost every night.

Meanwhile, the Orange Order has planned a rally in Belfast's Waterfront Hall to gain support for the stand-off at Drumcree.

Orangemen from across the north are paying 12.50 a ticket for a `mammoth Orange soiree' for 29 and 30 March.

Grand Secretary Denis Watson denied it would be used as a rallying call for brethren to support the Drumcree stand-off and the event has been billed as a ``cultural extravaganza''. But Orangemen booked the Craigavon Civic centre last November under the billing of as an evening of Orange culture and used the hall to rally support for Drumcree.

Sinn Fein councillor Chrissie McAuley called for the rally to be stopped, ``the hall is there to be booked by groups, but given the experience of of previous indoor rallies which have been used to lambast the people of the Garvaghy Road and whip up sectarianism.''
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