10 September 1998 Edition

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Orangemen ignore Drumcree appeals

By Sean O'Tuama

Drumcree Orangemen have said they are committed to maintaining their siege of the Garvaghy Road area despite repeated calls from church and political leaders on them to do so.

And it has also been disclosed that the Portadown Orangemen are planning a series of events to highlight the banned march and their two month old protest.

David Jones, spokesperson for the Portadown Orangemen, refused to reveal any of their plans, but it is thought the Order may be intent on organising a ``festival of Portadown''.

The ``festival'' is opposed by Craigavon Council and may not get off the ground.

On Monday 7 September the Church and Government Committee of the Presbyterian Church urged the Orange Order to call off the siege of the Garvaghy Road, slamming last weekend's violence in Portadown as ``inexcusable.''

Reverend John Dunlop, convener of the committee said, ``the Order has lost control of its protests''.

In response, however, David Jones, the Order's Portadown spokesperson, rejected outright any suggestion that the violence witnessed in Portadown over the past two months was connected to the Order and vowed that the protests would continue.

Sinn Fein Assembly member, Dara O'Hagan, called on First Minister, David Trimble, to use his influence to end the siege of the Garvaghy community. ``For two months now elements within unionism, loyalism and the Orange Order have engaged in a systematic campaign of intimidation and violence against the nationalist community in Portadown,'' she said.

Trimble, an Orangeman, initially responded only to condemn the weekend violence for tarnishing the image of Portadown, but on Tuesday Trimble said ``the Portadown District Lodge has got itself into a mess and isn't thinking straight''.

Craigavon DUP mayor, Mervyn Carrick, said ``Portadown traders have suffered enough.''

The RUC confirmed that Saturday's violence was ``orchestrated'' but the LVF, the primary loyalist death squad in the area, have denied any involvement. However this group has been guilty of `no claim, no blame' attacks in the past.

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