30 May 2002 Edition

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Minor trouble on Garvaghy Road

Sinn Féin Assembly member for Upper Bann, Dara O'Hagan, has congratulated nationalists for the restraint they showed on Saturday during the junior Orange Order march in Portadown.

O'Hagan was speaking after a Junior Orange parade on Saturday 25 May passed off relatively peacefully. Some minor trouble broke out before the British Army and PSNI/RUC withdrew from the area and one man was hit with a plastic bullet. O'Hagan said the RUC/PSNI were very eager to open up on nationalists with plastic bullets. "A small number of bottles and bricks were thrown by youths before the RUC/PSNI opened fire," she said. "In my view their reaction was less than restrained."

Tension had been high in the area since the Parades Commission gave permission for the Orange parade to march along part of the Garvaghy Road. Despite lobbying from Sinn Féin and the residents' groups, the Parades Commission refused to change its determination.

Said Dara O'Hagan: "We cited numerous reasons for wanting the parade kept away from the Garvaghy Road. This parade in the past has ended in violence when both the British Army and RUC provoked residents, and the march itself does not go anywhere - it merely goes up the road, passing through a nationalist area, and back down again. The Orange Order's intransigence and refusal to engage in dialogue with residents has again been rewarded by the Parades Commission."

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