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Drumcree now a far cry from confrontations of the past

By Raymond Kilpatrick

Drumcree Parish Church has been synonymous with stormy confrontation in the past but yesterday the only thing police were battling back was a gale-force wind.

On numerous occasions, the picturesque church, perched on a hill on the outskirts of Portadown, has had the eyes of the world on it.

The name Drumcree conjures up images of pitch battles between supporters of the Orange Order's fight to walk a route it claims it has taken for over two centuries through the town, while security forces implemented the determination of the Parades Commission by blocking their way.

Orangemen have been banned from walking Obins Street in the town for the past quarter of the century, an area which had formed part of the outward route previously.

However, boiling point was reached in the 1990s over the ‘walk home' from their hour-long church service via the nationalist Garvaghy Road, culminating in the banning of Orangemen from the route in 1998.

However, yesterday was a far cry from events of the past. While there was a heavy police presence throughout the town, only a handful of officers were positioned at a small barrier on Drumcree Hill to rebuff Orangemen.

At this point a spokesman for the Orangemen made a verbal protest to a senior police officer over the parade's restriction.

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