21 August 1997 Edition

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Tension over Orange march in North Belfast

By Eoin O'Broin

Nationalists in north Belfast's Whitewell estate are calling on the Loyal Black Institution to enter into last minute negotiations with community representatives in order to discuss the forthcoming loyalist march through the nationalist area planned for Saturday 30 August.

The Whitewell and District Residents Group (WDRG) have called for representatives of the Local Lodge to meet with them to avoid tension resulting from the parade.

The march is a feeder parade for a larger event in Lurgan. While the outgoing route chosen by the Black Lodge has the full consent of local nationalists, it is the intention of the Lodge to march through Longlands, and down the Whitewell Road on their return from Lurgan that concerns them most.

Residents in the area have repeatedly asked for meetings to resolve the issue but have been met with a brick wall. Although the Lodge have yet to respond to the latest call for talks, they have filed for the march with the RUC and it now looks set to go ahead.

Residents have also filed for a counter demonstration to protest if the march is forced through. WDRG have called a public meeting at which the counter demonstration will be put before the wider community for approval.

The march comes at the end of a particularly difficult summer as loyalist mobs have continually attacked nationalist homes along the Serpentine Road. In recent weeks, as reported in An Phoblacht, loyalists assisted by RUC men have continually provoked local nationalists. In one recent incident a pipe bomb of the type manufactured by the UDA was thrown into the back of a nationalist house. It failed to explode and no one was injured. However a number of people have been hospitalised as a result of RUC brutality or stress and shock from the continual harassment.

Meanwhile Sinn Fein Councillor Mick Murphy has accused the RUC of ``provocation, brutality and naked sectarianism'' following violent clashes at the annual 15th of August nationalist band parade in Kilkeel, Co Down.

Nationalist residents who gathered to watch the small two band parade were surrounded by 13 landrovers and RUC personel, many in riot gear. As the parade got under way, a loyalist crowd started to hurl sectarian abuse at nationalists, including shouts of support for the LVF, the organisation implicated in brutally slaughtering Annsborough teenager James Morgan.

As tensions between the two crowds grew Sinn Fein representatives tried to diffuse the situation and were attacked by the RUC. A number of people had to receive medical attention following the incident.

An Phoblacht
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