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Police Block Demonstrators in N. Ireland

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. Full Story

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