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17 June 1999 Edition

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Loyalist supremacy complex

by Padraig MacDabhaid

Loyalists are attempting to up the ante in the run up to Drumcree by planning a ``long walk'' throughout the Six Counties.

The organisers are planning the march to leave Derry on Thursday 24 June and after making its way through Limavady, Coleraine, Ballymoney, Ballymena, Antrim, Lisburn and Lurgan arrive in Portadown in time for the participants to take part in Drumcree march on 4 July.

Announcing plans for the long march at a press conference on Wednesday, 16 June, organisers' spokesperson Jonathan Bell said: ``No one should be offended if the march passes through nationalist areas''.

He added that the march intended to draw intention to the ``forgotten victims of republican violence''.

That DUP Assembly member Paul Berry who recently, ``threatened'' that Orangemen would walk the Garvaghy Road no matter what is a clear message that this march has more to do with unionist supremacy than civil rights.

The proposed route for the march, which will also link up with feeder parades, highlights the insensitivity of the organisers.

Their proposed route will take them through Greysteel, the site of the 1993 Rising Sun bar massacre in which the UDA killed seven people and wounded 13.

The marchers will then go through Coleraine and Limavady in order to reach Ballymoney, the site of last year's murder by loyalists of the three Quinn children. Feeder marches are also intended to pass through the mainly nationalist villages of Bellaghy and Dunloy.

The march will then move through Antrim, a town in which nationalists and Catholics have suffered from increasing loyalist violence in the last year.

Then on to Crumlin, where loyalists murdered Ciaran Heffron after a DUP rally in Antrim and recently has seen pipe bomb attacks on nationalist owned pubs.

The marchers also intend to pass through Lurgan, where loyalists killed Rosemary Nelson.

``They are trying to intimidate nationalists and Catholics in vulnerable areas and are trying to make nationalists, who have the right under the Good Friday Agreement to live free from sectarian harassment, lie down under loyalist triumphalism'', said Sinn Fein's Eoin O'Broin .

The `long walk committee', consisting of 80 members drawn from a variety of Protestant, unionist and loyalist groupings, have issued an invitation ``to all sections of the Protestant and unionist population of Northern Ireland who through no fault of their own have become directly or indirectly the innocent victims of the past 30 years of terrorism''. This comes despite a plea from the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church to call off the march.

DUP Assembly member Gregory Campbell has rubbished the Church's plea, saying ``as I go about Northern Ireland, I find ordinary rank and file Protestants who, be they nominal or active churchgoers, are saying that the things that they hear from some of their pulpits does not represent what they believe''.

The Parades Commission has started to canvass for public opinion on the march and is expected to make a decision today, Thursday 17 June.

 

Springfield Road Residents call for support



By Roisín Cox

John McGivern of the Springfield Road Residents Action Group has criticised Orangemen for refusing to enter into dialogue and discuss their parade through the mainly nationalist Springfield Road area on June 26. ``Their refusal to meet can only heighten tension and further inflame the situation in the build up to the scheduled Orange Parade which has consistently led to trouble,'' says McGivern.

Due to the strength of local opposition to the parade, repeated attempts to initiate dialogue have been made by the Action Group. For the past 18 months, weekly overtures for dialogue have been made to the Orange Order, who have neither acknowledged nor accepted the invitation for face to face talks.

``This is indicative of the Orange Order's attitude to the Springfield Road Residents. The Orange Order has clearly demonstrated that the are not interested in the views, fears or concerns of the residents'', said group spokesperson John McGivern.

In recent years the Springfield Residents have met with numerous groups in an attempt to both manifest their opposition to the parade and to highlight public awareness of the issue.

John McGivern stresses, ``our door is always open for dialogue. We want to resolve the situation and that problem can only be solved through face to face dialogue''.

And although the Springfield Residents have in the past met with the Apprentice Boys, a meeting described by both parties as ``worthwhile'', the Orange Order are adamantly refusing to engage in ``vital dialogue at this time'', added McGivern.

Springfield Road Residents Action Group is now calling for community support for a series of pickets they have scheduled for June 21 to 25 to show their opposition to the parade. ``We want the local community to give their maximum support,'' said McGivern.

The residents argue that a viable alternative route exists and that the parade doesn't have to pass through the predominantly nationalist Springfield Road and they have appealed to the Orange Order to voluntarily reroute the parade.

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