20 February 1997 Edition

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Don't negotiate, says new loyalist group

By Joe Delaney

The latest loyalist grouping to join the Six County fray, the County Antrim Support Movement (CASM), has called on the Orange Order not to negotiate with residents groups opposed to Orange marches.

CASM is believed to be led by prominent Orangemen and is associated with Joel Patton, spokesperson for The Pride of Drumcree Group. It held its first meeting last Saturday 15 February in Harryville to coincide with the 23rd week of protest outside Our Lady's chapel.

In a press statement the group said they were ``founded in order to lend support to Orange and Loyalist brethren who had suffered at the hands of the Roman Catholic pan-nationalist front.'' The statement went on to urge loyalists not to negotiate with residents groups, accusing them of being fronts for the IRA.

While this new group has been described by as extreme hardline even by Orange Order standards, its attitude is shared by `mainstream' Unionist politicians and the Orange Order. Their no-talk attitude is bolstered by the Tories who are afraid of upsetting Unionists in the run-up to the Westminster election.

Meanwhile Breandan MacCionnaith of the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition (GRRC) has accused the British Government of being reluctant to start negotiations regarding Orange parades. ``The GRRC are very disappointed that four weeks after a meeting with Patrick Mayhew, a series of written questions put to him by the residents has failed to elicit any response from his office''.

The questions were drafted by the Coalition's legal advisors and deal with the role of the British Secretary of State in relation to Drumcree/Garvaghy Road last July, the RUC's use of plastic bullets and the number of marches in Portadown.

MacCionnaith said, ``We will be asking politicians in Ireland and Britain to raise these matters in their respective Parliaments. These are questions which need to be answered fully and truthfully by Sir Patrick Mayhew and the British Government. It appears that since last July, there has been a determined effort by the British Government not to explain its role during the events last year''.

Gerry Adams said, ``The British government's policy is despicable. It caved in to Unionist threats and intimidation last summer, as it did again when the North report was published. In a dysfunctional society like the one we endure in the Six Counties the behaviour of the Orange mob at Harryville is a symptom of what is wrong. The causes have to be tackled. This can only be accomplished through dialogue''.

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