**Piss ants on Parade

Police Block Demonstrators in N. Ireland

Police Block 2,000 Protestants From Parading in N. Ireland; Protesters Later
Disperse Peacefully
The Associated Press

PORTADOWN, Northern Ireland July 4, 2004 — Police blocked about 2,000
Protestants of the Orange Order brotherhood from parading through the Catholic
section of this bitterly divided town Sunday. The demonstrators dispersed peacefully
after their leaders handed police a letter of protest. It was the seventh
year in a row that the hard-line Protestant fraternal group has been prevented
from marching down the Garvaghy Road in Portadown, the major Catholic enclave in
this overwhelmingly Protestant town southwest of Belfast.
Orange leaders gave the letter of protest to police commanders at a
10-foot-high steel wall blocking the road. They demanded to be allowed to march to the
center of Portadown via Garvaghy Road, where Catholic hard-liners began
blocking the Orangemen's usual parade route in 1995.

But police commanders quietly said they were obliged to uphold a ruling from
the British government-appointed Parades Commission. Every year since 1998 the
expert panel has said the Orange Order won't be allowed through until the
group drops its decade-old ban on negotiations with Garvaghy Road leaders.

Portadown's deputy Orange leader, David Burrows, told the crowd they were
welcome to protest at police lines but only peacefully.

"There must come a time when this crazy decision to uphold the (Irish)
nationalist veto on our parade comes to an end," Burrows told the crowd.

The dispute over the annual Orange parade triggered riots across this British
territory in 1996, 1997 and 1998. But most of the crowd this year piled into
cars and left without trouble after Burrows' appeal.

The protests have grown increasingly tepid since police successfully blocked
the Orangemen for the first time in 1998. The Orangemen that year stood their
ground at the barricades for a week, then quit after three Catholic boys were
killed in an arson attack in another mostly Protestant town, Ballymoney.

British army engineers have ensured that Orangemen could not outflank police
lines by erecting coils of razor wire, digging and flooding trenches in cow
pastures beside the blocked road.

Orange leaders have refused face-to-face talks with Garvaghy Road protest
leader, Breandan MacCionnaith, citing his conviction in connection with a 1974
Irish Republican Army bombing of the Royal British Legion building in Portadown.

The Orange Order, a conservative anti-Catholic brotherhood founded near
Portadown in 1795, was instrumental in establishing Northern Ireland in 1921,
shortly before the predominantly Catholic rest of Ireland won independence from

Orangemen once controlled many institutions in Northern Ireland but have seen
their influence wane since 1972, when Britain dissolved a local
Protestant-dominated government and imposed a system of "direct rule" from London that
still operates.

Nonetheless, the Orange Order demonstrates its grass roots strength with
several weeks of marches across Northern Ireland each summer. Its biggest marches
come July 12, the anniversary of the 1690 Battle of the Boyne, when the
Protestant William II defeated his Catholic rival for the British throne, James II.

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