19th June 2000
Orange Order raising tensions in run-up to Drumcree
Sinn Fein Upper Bann Assembly member Dr. Dara O'Hagan has accused the Orange Order of heightening tensions in the run-up to this years Drumcree march.
Dr. O'Hagan said:
``The past number of weeks have seen an escalation in sectarian attacks against nationalists living in the Portadown area particularly in the Garvaghy Road. Tensions have been high since the loyalist siege of the Garvaghy Road began over 700 days ago.
``However, media reports that loyalist sources are billing this years parade as the `final stand', coupled with statements made by Orange Order leaders over the past number of months saying that they thought they would be unable to keep a lid on violence and their welcoming of support from wherever it comes, even from prominent loyalists, has raised tensions to boiling point.
``The Orange Order's decision to file for marches every day between the 2nd and the 12th of July has not helped matters and clearly shows their contempt for any genuine attempt to resolve the crisis through dialogue.
``The decision to hold a parade which is expected to attract 2,000 people to Drumcree this Saturday will only serve to raise nationalist fears and tensions. Nationalists will remember well the sort of intimidation and nightly attacks which were waged upon them and their property the last time the Orange Order brought thousands of people to Drumcree. It is clear that the Orange Order are involving themselves in a process aimed at intimidating nationalists into ending their opposition to sectarian parades in this area rather than choosing to resolve the issue through dialogue.''
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