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22 June 2000 Edition

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Plastic bullets fired at Lurgan protest

Plastic bullets were fired by the RUC at nationalist residents protesting at the Parades Commission's decision to allow an Orange March through a nationalist part of Lurgan town.

A heavily armed RUC and British Army contingent cordoned off the William and Victoria Street area of Lurgan to facilitate a mini Twelfth parade by the Orange Order. Scuffles broke out as British Crown forces saturated the area, restricting the movement of local residents, some of whom were prevented from attending evening Mass at the local Catholic chapel.

As tension mounted, a number of youths threw bottles, stones and a number of paint and petrol bombs at the lines of riot-clad RUC officers. Plastic bullets were fired, injuring three young people.

Sinn Féin Assembly member Dara O Hagan said trouble had flared as ``a direct consequence of a terrible decision by the Parades Commission's decision to allow an Orange parade to march through a nationalist area.

``During a meeting with the Parades Commission,'' said Dara, ``we conveyed the depth of feeling felt in this area by nationalists in relation to this sectarian and triumphalist parade.'' The Assembly member also criticised the presence of the RUC, ``acting in an aggressive manner, carrying out a huge military style operation for hours before and after such marches.''

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