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Drumcree violence to switch to Belfast

(by Anthony Neeson, Irelandclick.com)

Community groups in the west of the city will be holding their breath this weekend in the run-up to Drumcree Sunday.

Although the parade has passed off without any major violent incident in recent years, the annual parade has been associated with violence which culminated in the deaths of the three young Quinn children in Ballymoney in 1990.

And with interface violence in Belfast at its worse since the early years of the Troubles, many community leaders throughout Belfast are worried that Belfast could bear the brunt of the violence this time round, even though the heat has been taken out of annual fall-out with the parade being banned for the fifth year in a row.

Saying it was "the only conclusion that they [the Parades Commission] could have reached, Upper Bann MLA Dr Dara O'Hagan - speaking at a press conference in the Sinn Fein offices on the Falls Road on Tuesday - said that it was the only solution after the Orange Order refused to speak to the residents of the Garvaghy Road.

"They have instead resorted to threatening the community on Garvaghy Road in their attempts to force a parade down the road," she said.

"In light of this approach the Parades Commission could have reached no other conclusion than the one that has been delivered. I would appeal to the Orange Order even at this late stage to engage with the representatives of the community on the Garvaghy Road and ensure that they do not once again this year attempt to lay siege to that community."

However, sources in Portadown have told the Andersonstown News that if there is trouble this year it will be centred in Belfast.

"Compared to previous years there is very little tension in the town this year," said one source in the county Armagh town.

"The numbers going to Drumcree have fallen over the past couple of years and it looks as though that will be the same this year.

"However, it's difficult to see it passing without any sort of violence, but the feeling on the ground here is that it may be confined to Belfast."

In recent weeks there has been violence in the Short Strand, Springfield Road, Donegall Pass and throughout North Belfast. On Saturday nationalist youths battled with the PSNI on the Springfield Road after the Orange Order's annual parade passed through a part of the nationalist area.

Speaking to the Andersonstown News last night, Upper Springfield resident Frances McAuley said that the area was still "very tense" after Saturday's three-hour pitched battle and said there will not be any trouble this weekend if the PSNI "behave themselves".

"The way they behaved on Saturday was outrageous. They waited until the parade had passed and then moved in with the water cannon and dogs. There was no need for them to be there. The batons came out and the jeeps roared into the crowd. The injuries are unbelievable. Some people were beaten in their own doorways. We're at the minute compiling a dossier of people's injuries."

The residents will be meeting this weekend to discuss next week's July 12 parade in the area.

July 5, 2002
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This article appeared first on the Irelandclick.com web site on July 4, 2002.

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