7 October 1999 Edition

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Garvaghy betrayal on the cards?

By Padraig MacDabháid

Northern nationalists fear the British government has made a deal with the Orange Order which would see the forcing of a sectarian march down the Garvaghy Road within the next few weeks. The alarm was raised following reports in a Dublin Sunday paper which revealed that the British government is linking the Portadown march to the wider political negotiations. According to Garvaghy residents' spokesperson Breandán Mac Cionnaith, earlier this year it was widely rumoured that in return for good behaviour by the Orange Order at Drumcree in July the British government would let them march down the Garvaghy Road at a later date.

This rumour found new momentum this week after reports surfaced that the British government is putting pressure on Dublin to accept an Orange Order march down the nationalist Garvaghy Road. A move which the British are claiming will strengthen David Trimble's hand within his own party. If Portadown Orangemen do not get to march down the Garvaghy Road before Christmas, the British argue, Trimble will be unable to strike to a deal with Sinn Féin on decommissioning and the establishment of an executive. It is feared that a similar scenario as that which was pursued on the Lower Ormeau earlier this year would be applied to Garvaghy Road. This would mean that the meeting between the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition, NIO Minister Adam Ingram and the legal and political representatives of the Orange Order would be used by the Parades Commission as evidence of the Orange Order satisfying the Commission's criteria for allowing marches to proceed. In effect, the Parades Commission would be letting Orangemen off the hook by no longer insisting that the Order must enter into dialogue with .local residents. It's a no-win situation for nationalist residents.

``The British is still allowing the single Orange/unionist demand of seeking a march by a constitutionally bound anti-Catholic organisation, through a Catholic area, to dictate the agenda,'' said Mac Cionnaith. ``No-one would question the motives of black or Jewish communities in opposing marches by anti-black or anti-Semitic organisations. Rather than question the motives of the residents, people should question the motivation of the marchers.''

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