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Protestants Demanding Right to Continue Their Annual MarchesAired July 5, 2000 - 2:03 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: In Northern Ireland, police and politicians are appealing to Protestants to call off their rallies, following three nights of violence. Protestants are upset the government is restricting their annual march this coming weekend. It winds through a Catholic neighborhood between Portadown and Drumcree.
Today, the British army put up a 20-foot-high steel and concrete barricade across the marchers' intended path at Drumcree. The strategy is similar to that used by the army to curb past confrontations at this trouble spot.
Here's CNN's Nic Robertson with more.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nightly clashes between Protestants and police are spreading across Northern Ireland, their ferocity increasing as Sunday's disputed Protestant Orange Order march gets nearer. Now the third year the march has been prevented from reaching Catholic homes, the Orange Order is ratcheting up the pressure to have it their way.
PAUL BREW, POLITICAL ANALYST: They regard it as a very simple matter of religious and civil liberty, and that they should be able to do this as they have been doing it for 200 years.
ROBERTSON: Protestant gunmen are taking to the streets to show their support for the marchers: a dangerous development over previous years, threatening peace and the Orange Order.
BREW: And this is the difficulty: It really is in a position as an institution where it faces enormous difficulties. And most of its members are inclined toward respectability. This is a fundamental factor about the Orange Order. And that is going to cause unease. There's a danger of splits. It's a very difficult moment for this movement.
ROBERTSON: Difficult or not, its members have chosen not to negotiate with the Catholic community. Negotiations the Parades Commission, which was set up to arbitrate peaceful marches, say is necessary to finding a lasting solution.
Breandon McCionnaith, spokesman for the Catholic Garvaghy Road, says his community could allow a march sometime. BREANDON MCCIONNAITH, CATHOLIC COMMUNITY SPOKESMAN: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) one step at a time, see if the Orange Order are prepared to follow the steps laid out by the Parades Commission. If they are and if they, you know, respond in a positive and an imaginative manner, then I am sure this community could react in the same way.
ROBERTSON: Most involved in the standoff believe there is no chance of a deal being made ahead of this Sunday's Drumcree march, and most expect the violence to continue up to and beyond that day.
(on camera): It has been called their Alamo, and for many of those who will be gathering here this Sunday, the stakes will feel just as high.
Nic Robertson, CNN, Drumcree, Northern Ireland.
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