Edward C. Whyte (
Fri, 15 Jan 1999 14:36:26 +0100

c/o 3 Ashgrove Road
Co. Armagh



The Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition has published a dossier detailing
events in Portadown since July 5th. In the period since then, there have
been over 140 demonstrations organised by, or on behalf of, the Orange
Order in Portadown, the vast majority of which have been illegal.
Catholic homes and busineses have been attacked, burned and bombed.
Catholic citizens have been assaulted, threatened and abused. Four
people have also been murdered in incidents directly connected to the
ongoing protests related to Drumcree. The GRRC points out that the
situation under which the Catholic and Nationalist community has lived
for almost seven months has been largely ignored by the media and by
politicians. Indeed, the residents claim that a major outcry would have
ensued if an ethnic or minority community in Britain, the US or Europe,
was subjected to a similar orchestrated campaign of intimidation.

The Residents Coalition is sending copies of the dossier to both the
Irish and British governments, politicians in Ireland, Britain and
America and to human rights organisations. Putting into context scores
of demonstrations by Orange Order and
other loyalist organisations, the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition
states that these demonstrations are solely designed to intimidate the
local community, and are but a campaign of low intensity terrorism
being conducted by, or on behalf of, the Orange Order.




On June 29th the Parades Commission published a determination in respect
of a march organised by Portadown Orange District No. 1. to Drumcree due
to take place on Sunday 5 1998. The Commission prohibited the Orange
Order from marching back into Portadown via the predominantly
Nationalist Garvaghy Road. The Orange Order announced publicly that it
would not abide by the Parades Commission's decision, thereby setting in
train a series of events which has subjected the Catholic and
Nationalist community of Portadown to a reign of sectarian terror and
intimidation. At the beginning of 1999, the Orange Order's campaign of
intimidation continues unabated.

Little media or political attention has been focused on the situation in
Portadown since July. Were such an organised campaign of, often violent,
intimidation to be directed against a coloured or ethnic community in
Britain, mainland Europe or the United States, in the same manner as
that directed against Portadown's Catholic and Nationalist community, an
international outcry would have ensued.

This document contains a brief outline of the campaign of terror and
intimidation being waged against Portadown Catholic and Nationalist
community. It is not, nor is it meant to be, a complete or detailed
chronology of incidents since July. Events in Portadown from July, up to
and including January, call into question the ability of the British
Government to fulfil its duty and commitment under the April 10th
Agreement to ensure that everyone has the right to live "free from
sectarian harassment".


The Orange Order announced its opposition to the Parades Commission
determination. On Sunday 5th the Orange Order marches to Drumcree.
Passing St. John's Catholic church at the junction of Dungannon Road and
Garvaghy Road, Orangemen and supporters engage in "behaviour which could
reasonably be perceived as provocative, threatening, abusive, insulting
or lewd" in defiance of the Parades Commission's Code of Conduct.
Orangemen and supporters mimic the beating to death of Robert Hamill, a
young Catholic murdered in 1997. This march is followed by a second
totally illegal march led by the Grand Master of the Orange Order,
Robert Saulters. The RUC and British Army fail to intervene to halt this
illegal march, setting a pattern followed during an estimated thirty
plus illegal marches over the next fortnight.

A number of Catholic families living along Charles St and Dungannon Road
have no option but to evacuate their homes during this period. Catholic
owned businesses at Charles Street and Dungannon Road are attacked. A
number of Catholics living in the same area are assaulted and abused by
Orangemen and their supporters. Illegal loyalist blockades are mounted
at the entrances to the Nationalist Obins Street and Garvaghy Road areas
in an attempt to prevent people from leaving the area for work, etc. One
Catholic-owned filling station comes in for repeated attacks and is
forced to close temporarily.

Homes in Obins Drive and Obins Avenue come under regular sectarian
attack, which includes the use of blast bombs.

Orangemen and supporters mass at Drumcree, nightly riots ensue with gun
and bomb attacks carried out by loyalists. RUC and British Army fail to
prevent illegal assemblies. In contrast, stewards operating under the
control of the GRRC and independent international observers are
subjected to repeated harassment by the RUC. A convoy of vehicles
ferrying food into the beleaguered Nationalist community is deliberately
halted and delayed by the RUC. Within minutes of being permitted to
proceed, the convoy is attacked by loyalists.

The murder of the three Quinn boys in a sectarian attack causes
widespread revulsion. Orange demo's at Drumcree on July 12 fail to
attract huge numbers as the boys' mother says the Orange Order should
never be allowed down the Garvaghy Road.
British troops recover arms and explosives at the site of the Orange
Order encampment at Drumcree.

As the RUC/British Army operation in Portadown is scaled down on July 19
and 20, illegal demonstrations are allowed to be held nightly close to
Catholic homes at Charles Street/Craigwell Avenue and at the lower end
of the Garvaghy Road. Residents come under verbal and physical attack.

Over two hundred Orange Order supporters are permitted to assemble on
the Garvaghy Road on July 30. Catholic families are threatened and
intimidated. RUC refuses to take action or remove the demonstrators. A
ten year old boy is hospitalized during a loyalist attack on Obins

U.S. State Senator Tom Hadyn describes the Orange Order's activities
against Portadown's Catholic Nationalist community as being comparable
to the actions of white supremacists in Mississippi in the 1960's.


Pro-Orange demonstrations continue on a nightly basis throughout the
month with illegal assemblies at Craigwell Avenue/Charles Street, the
lower part of Garvaghy Road and at Drumcree. Loyalist bands take part in
these demonstrations on a regular basis. The RUC do not attempt to
intervene or prevent these demonstrations occurring. Homes in Craigwell
Avenue are targeted by loyalists.

RUC permit loyalists to congregate on August 15 at 9.00am within a
Nationalists area as local Nationalist bands parade from Obins Street to
Garvaghy Road prior to participation in AOH parades elsewhere outside
Portadown. Despite a heavy RUC presence, members of the bands were
abused and assaulted by loyalists. The RUC response to this loyalist
attack was to attack the band members themselves. One 14 year old girl
is injured. At the same time several hundred other loyalists blockaded
the main road at Craigwell Avenue.

Later that night, a pro-Orange rally involving over 1,000 loyalists is
held at the junction of Park Road and Garvaghy Road. Several hundred
loyalists also blockade Craigwell Avenue. Stones and bottles are hurled
at Catholic homes.

Concern mounts throughout August as Catholic shoppers and young people
begin to come under abuse in the town centre on an almost daily basis.
On Saturday August 29, Catholic shoppers are forcibly expelled from the
town centre by several hundred loyalists. A number of people are
injured, and shoppers claim RUC officers do nothing to prevent the
attacks. A number of Catholic-owned businesses are picketed and


A loyalist bomb destroys two Catholic-owned shops in Portadown town
centre only hours before President Clinton addresses huge gathering in
Armagh city on Thursday September 3. The shops had been targeted by
loyalists on August 29.

Nationalist representatives meet with senior Northern Ireland Office
officials on Friday September 4 to express their concerns about the
escalating sectarian attacks. They demand increased protection for the
local Catholic community.

The plea to British officials appears to have fallen on deaf ears as
Catholic shoppers are again forcibly expelled from the town centre on
the afternoon of Saturday September 4 for the second weekend in a row.
The pro-Orange mob then proceeds to torch Catholic owned shops in the
town centre, in one case, attempting to imprison the owners and staff
inside the building as it burns.

The mob also attempts to make its way via Woodhouse Street to the
Catholic Obins Street area. Catholic shoppers flee for their lives. When
the RUC finally arrives in the area, they initially confront the victims
of the disturbances.

A pro-Drumcree march that night along Corcrain Road makes its way
towards Craigwell Avenue. Loyalist paramilitaries use blast bombs in an
attempt to reach Catholic homes. A Catholic RUC officer is critically
injured in one of these blast bomb attacks, and later dies of his
injuries. Comments by an Orange Order spokesperson in relation to this
death causes outrage.

A previously unheard of grouping, the Red Hand Defenders, later claims
responsibility for the death of the RUC officer and the earlier burning
of a number of Catholic churches and businesses. Illegal protests,
involving hundreds of Orangemen and supporters, at Drumcree continue on
a nightly basis throughout the month.

A Church of Ireland group, called CATALYST, with the backing of over 160
clergymen, expresses public concern regarding the mis-use of Church
services and Church property by the Orange Order as not being in keeping
with Church teachings.

As a direct result of the ongoing protests a number of Catholic families
in Craigwell Avenue apply to be re-housed under the emergency SPED

Approximately 1,500 Orangemen march through Portadown on the afternoon
of Saturday September 28. At a rally outside Carleton Street Orange
Hall, the Grand Master of the Orange Order, Robert Saulters, sinisterly
calls for the leader of the local Nationalist residents committee to be
"taken out". Saulters is not prosecuted for such threats under
Incitement to Hatred legislation.


Pro-Orange protests continue throughout the month, mainly confined to

Catholic families living near interface areas are now enduring a fourth
month of fear. No major incidents are reported.

RUC Constable Frankie O'Reilly dies on Tuesday October 6th as a result
of injuries received on September 5. A subsequent lull in loyalist and
Orange activity is attributed to this fact. Loyalists call off a march
on October 11 citing the death as a reason. Publicly the Orange Order
comes in for a barrage of criticism.

The Church of Ireland Primate, Archbishop Robin Eames, reflects the
disquiet among the Church's membership when he addresses the Armagh
Diocesan Synod. He seeks three pledges from the Orange Order regarding
their future attendance at services in the Church Of the Ascension,
Drumcree. These are: avoidance of any action before or after the service
which would diminish the sanctity of worship; obedience to the law of
the land; and respecting the integrity of the Church by word and action
and avoiding the use of all church property in any protest. To date,
the Orange Order have failed to publicly give those pledges.

The NIO concedes intimidation of Catholic families and commences to
purchase several Catholic-owned homes.

October draws to a close with further demonstrations at Drumcree.
Saturday October 31 saw clashes between Orangemen and their supporters
which lasted into the early hours of Sunday morning.


The Orange Order commences the month with a pro-Drumcree rally held in
Craigavon Civic Centre, the headquarters of the Craigavon Borough
Council. The rally was booked on the guise of "a cultural evening".
Nationalist political representatives, included Independents, Sinn Fein
and SDLP all condemn this mis-use of Council property for a sectarian
rally. Later hundreds of Orangemen and their supporters make their to
Drumcree church.

Orange spokespersons deliberately heighten tension by publicly
announcing their intention to march along the Garvaghy Road before
Christmas. Nationalists fear a repetition of Easter 1986 when, in the
middle of the night, several thousand loyalists staged an illegal march
through the Garvaghy Road area in defiance of a ban upon an Apprentice
Boys of Derry march. Many Nationalists homes were attacked during that
loyalist invasion.

On Friday Nov.13 Orangemen and supporters make their way from Drumcree
to the edge of the Nationalist Ballyoran estate before being halted. RUC
figures indicate that 51 people have been charged with public order
offenses since July and 24 convictions secured. During same period,
thousands of Orangemen and supporters have been involved in illegal,
often violent demonstrations.

Thursday Nov 26 Orangemen and supporters assemble at Drumcree and then
block the main Dungannon Road. The mob surrounds a car containing a
Catholic youth and his girlfriend and attempt to drag them from the

At the end of the month, a loyalist paramiltary group "the Orange
Volunteers" hold a press meeting and put on display fire-arms and hand
grenades. It threatens assassination attacks against the "enemies of
Ulster". Earlier in the year, a speaker at a pro-Drumcree rally reminded
his audience that the Orange Order had its own paramilitary force - the
Orange Volunteers.

Sat 28 A pro-Drumcree march from Portadown town centre to Drumcree via
Charles St and Dungannon Road, is given the go ahead by the Parades
Commission. A number of Catholic living along the proposed route vacate
their homes for the duration of the march and rally. Families living at
Charles Street/Craigwell Avenue and Dungannon Road are abused by the
marchers who also halt outside the Catholic church. Later that night,
patrons leaving a charity fund-raiser in St Patrick's Hall, Thomas
Street, are attacked by loyalists wielding clubs and baseball bats. One
Catholic man is hospitalized. Robert Hamill had been beaten to death by
loyalists after leaving the same premises the previous year, and even
though the RUC were aware of the function on the 28th , no RUC personnel
were deployed to prevent such an attack. A number of attackers are
dressed in band uniforms, indicating their participation in the
afternoon's pro-Drumcree march and rally.


In the aftermath of the pro-Drumcree march on Nov 28, loyalists
re-commence protests at Craigwell Avenue. Orangemen and their supporters
continue to assemble illegally on a nightly basis at Drumcree.

Over 1,000 Orangemen and supporters engage in a four and a half orgy of
violence at Drumcree on Dec 3. Catholic-owned filling station on the
Dungannon Road is attacked. Telegraph poles are felled and a lorry
hi-jacked. The RUC fire ONE plastic bullet in response. No arrests are

Monday Dec 7. Several bus loads of Orangemen arrive at Dungannon Road
and march to Drumcree. RUC fail to prevent illegal march.

Thursday Dec 10. 1,000 Orangemen and supporters assemble at Drumcree.
Attempt to block the Dungannon Road. Disturbances last for over three

Hundreds of local Nationalist residents attend a public meeting
organised by the GRRC in a local community hall on Tuesday December
15th. The meeting endorses the GRRC's decision to accept an invitation
to attend proximity talks the following day under the chairmanship of
Jonathon Powell, the British Prime Minister's Chief of Staff. The talks
last almost 12 hours. No progress is made as the Orange Order insists
upon written guarantee's of marches along the Garvaghy Road before they
will enter dialogue.

Saturday Dec 19. March organised by the Grand Orange Lodge from
Portadown town centre to Drumcree. Parades Commission rules against
marchers returning via Garvaghy Road. Less than five thousand Orangemen
and supporters attend the march, far fewer than the 30,000+ anticipated
by the Orange Order. Bands and marchers halt outside St. John's Catholic
Church at the junction of Dungannon and Garvaghy Roads to play and sing
sectarian songs and to shout abuse. A contingent of masked and uniformed
men carrying Ulster Volunteer Force paramilitary flags also participates
in the parade. A Catholic woman is attacked by several Orangemen wearing
sashes. Several Catholic families living adjacent to the march route
vacate their homes for the day and a Catholic-owned taxi business is
closed. One family at Corcrain Gardens leaves their home permanently,
bringing to eleven the number of families forced to leave their homes in
the town because of intimdation and fear in
recent months.

Later, that evening a crowd of Loyalists attack several people leaving a
Catholic-owned bar in Woodhouse Street. Ten RUC landrovers arrive on the
scene. Instead to dealing with the attackers, the RUC challenge the
victims and a number of other people who went to their aid. At least
seven nationalists are assaulted by the RUC with one man needing
hospital treatment.

Dec 23. Several hundred loyalists participate in a pro-Orange rally at
Drumcree held under the guise of a "carol service". Parades Commission
prohibits an Orange march organised for Saturday January 2 1999 from
entering Obins Street or Garvaghy Road. The Commission also bars an
Orange march planned for Garvaghy Road on Sunday January 3rd. In
relation to these marches and another planned by the Apprentice Boys on
December 30, the Commission warns of possible prosecutions should there
be a repetition of the sectarian behaviour witnessed on Dec 19.

Dec 30. Participants in the Apprentice Boys march again indulge in
outwardly aggressive sectarian behaviour on their way to Drumcree in
contravention of the Parades Commission's restrictions. Dec 31st.
Several hundred loyalists assemble at Drumcree around midnight. A heavy
force of British troops is deployed.


January 2nd. RUC and British troops seal off all access points to
Nationalist areas of Portadown as around 3,000 Orangemen and supporters
assemble in the town centre prior to marching to Drumcree. The RUC
remove one of their barriers to allow a bus load of Loyalists into the
Nationalist Obins Street. The Loyalists throw beer cans and other items
at local people. A major incident is only avoided when local community
leaders insist on the Loyalists being escorted out of the district.

Marchers hurl abuse at Nationalists living along Obins Drive; Obins
Avenue; Craigwell Avenue and Charles Street. All bands play sectarian
tunes in contravention of the Parades Commision ruling. At the junction
of the Dungannon and Garvaghy Roads, marchers and bands again sing and
play sectarian tunes directly outside St. John the Baptist Catholic
Church where a Rosary for peace is being said inside. Marchers and
supporters urinate in the gardens of Catholic homes on the Dungannon
Road. The same behabiour is repeated as the marchers return from
Drumcree later that afternoon. Stones and fireworks are thrown at
Catholic homes in Obins Drive and Obins Avenue. The RUC physically
prevent local Catholics from entering the local Catholic cemetery
adjacent to St.John's. A number of people are very visibly distraught by
the RUC's actions when they are stopped from visiting the graves of
their loved ones.

The First Minister, David Trimble, himself an Orangeman, calls for the
Parades Commission to be scrapped. Nationalist commentators are
extremely critical of his remarks. Thursday January 7. Loyalist
demonstrators congregate within yards of
Catholic homes at Craigwell Avenue from 9.00pm onwards. Fireworks and
other objects are thrown at homes. RUC present but do not attempt to
move the loyalists. A second loyalist crowd gathers at the junction of
Park Road and Garvaghy Road at 10.00pm and blocks the road. A number of
Catholic-owned vehicles are attacked by the loyalists, many of whom are
masked. The RUC, who do not arrive on the scene for almost 30 minutes,
again make no attempt to disperse the loyalists.

Loyalist protests at Drumcree and Craigwell Avenue continue over the
next weekend.

Sunday January 10. Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition confirms meeting
with British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, will take place on Monday 18th
in London. Upwards of 150 loyalists led by members of the DUP make their
way on to the lower part part of Garvaghy Road. They remain in place for
two hours, erecting flags outside Catholic homes. Three Catholic owned
vehicles are attacked. The RUC take no action.

In the period from July 5 to early January, over 140 Orange
demonstrations, the vast majority of which have been illegal, have
been held in Portadown. During this period, Catholic homes and
businesses have been attacked, burned and bombed. Catholic citizens have
been assaulted, threatened and abused.

The Orange campaign of terror and intimidation against Portadown's
Catholic and Nationalist minority continues in contravention of the Good
Friday Agreement .

You can help end this by writing to:

The Parades Commission
The Secretary of State, Mo Mowlam
British Prime Minister Tony Blair
Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern


You may also contact the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition directly.
Their address is: c/o 3 Ashgrove Road Portadown Co Armagh Ireland

If you wish to contribute towards the costs of their campaign, you can
wire donations to the GRRC account at: Northern Bank High Street,
Portadown Sort Code: 95-04-11 Account number: 71209760