Outrage as march forced through Lurgan centre

For the second time this week, the PSNI police have ignored a Parades Commission determination and forced an anti-Catholic parade through a nationalist community.

Last (Tuesday) night, the PSNI allowed a mob of unionist paramilitaries and their supporters to blockade Lurgan in County Armagh following a parade by the Royal Black Preceptory, a quasi-religious organisation linked to the Orange Order.

From 6pm nationalists were unable to enter Lurgan town centre. The march through the Market Street area of the town was led by the local paramilitary LVF along with DUP Councillor Jonathan Bell.

After the blockade was finally lifted the PSNI wsere seen to attack nationalists congregating in the area.

Lurgan PSNI base was subsequently attacked by a crowd of nationalists throwing petrol bombs and bricks as anger lingered over the handling of the march.

Local Sinn Féin representative John O’Dowd said the events in Lurgan were a “mirror image” of the PSNI’s actions in north Belfast on the previous night.

“Over the past two days the PSNI have on two occasions took it upon themselves to overturn Parades Commission determinations. On both occasions the nationalist community ended up being hemmed in and attacked by the PSNI,” he said.

“It is clear that one law operates for unionists and another for nationalists and republicans.”

Supporters of the Black Perceptory were also blamed for carrying out an attack on a female Catholic taxi driver in Lurgan on Tuesday morning. Despite a very heavy deployment of British forces in the town for the parade, her vehicle was stoned in the town centre. Locals said no effort was made to apprehend the attackers.

Mr O’Dowd said he and party colleagues later had to personally intervene to prevent PSNI land rovers “mowing down” a group of young nationalists.

He said the events raised “very serious issues both for the future of parading and the future of policing”.

“Unionists within the PSNI with the support of unionists within the local British administration were once again dictating the parading and policing agenda.

“This is unacceptable and must raise questions for those parties and individuals who continue to promote the PSNI to nationalists as an acceptable and accountable policing service.”

He also called on the SDLP to consider their support for the local District Policing Partnership.

“Over the past week two senior SDLP members one in Larne and one in Belfast have said that they are considering their positions with regard to DPPs and the Policing Board itself.

“I would now challenge the SDLP DPP members in Upper Bann to do likewise in the light of last nights disgraceful PSNI operation.”

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© 2004 Irish Republican News