Republican News · Thursday 23 July 1998

[An Phoblacht]

Garvaghy siege ends

On Wednesday 16 July, the twelfth day of the siege of the Garvaghy estate in Portadown, the RUC and British troops moved into the loyalist encampment at Drumcree to carry out a search operation.

The fields surrounding the church were cleared of loyalists during the operation and although ten Orangemen were allowed to return that evening to continue their protest this action signalled the end of Drumcree `98.

By Monday 19 July only a handful of Orangemen remained holed up in Drumcree church hall led by Harold Gracey, who was refusing to give interviews.

The crown forces uncovered Sten sub-machine guns, 9mm pistols, ammunition, catapults, crossbows, crossbow bolts with explosive tips, shotgun powder, fireworks, fuel for petrol bombs and a number of blast bombs. All had been brought to the site despite the heavy crown forces presence over the previous fortnight.

Over twenty people were arrested during the operation including Pauline Gilmore of the extreme loyalist group, the Ulster Civil Rights Association.

The hypocrisy of the Portadown Orange Order plummeted to a new depth on Friday night 17 July, when they amassed two thousand protesters in the centre of the town for an illegal rally to intimidate nationalists, whilst also engaging in proximity talks with the Garvaghy residents' group.

One of the gunmen who shot at the crown forces from Drumcree hill during the standoff has been identified as a leading member of the LVF and a placard found in a field adjacent to the Drumcree church read: 18 on tour. This refers to the involvement of the English neo-fascist gang, Combat 18.

They have previously attended Orange Order marchs in Portsmouth, England and recently sent a postcard to an anti-fascist magazine confirming that they would be coming to the Six Counties for the loylaist marching season.

The presence of these groups, well acquainted with acts of bigoted atrocity, and the formidable array of weaponry discovered at Drumcree proves that many nationalists this week could well have been conducting their own `traditional' march...... to the cemetery.

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