Dialogue is urged as the dispute over Orange Order parades in Drumcree in Portadown escalates.

Although the Parades Commission banned the annual Drumcree parade down the nationalist Garvaghy Road in County Armagh, Orangemen marched to Drumcree Church and stated that they would remain there until they were allowed to proceed. Loyalists from all over Northern Ireland travelled to the area and occupied the fields between Drumcree Church and the nationalist area.

About 12 MPs and new Assembly members marched to the barrier at Drumcree church. Most were high profile no campaigners during the Good Friday Agreement referendum.

Garvaghy residents say the only way to end the stand-off is through dialogue. This point was reiterated by Martin McGuinness of Sinn Féin.

The leadership of the Orange Order and Unionist leaders of all descriptions, need to recognise and understand, the value of talking, the value of dialogue and the reality that we can only hope to reach an accommodation with one another, if we are prepared to respect one another.

In Portadown, the Grand Orange Lodge admitted that its marshals cannot control the crowds or who can enter the fields at Drumcree.

During the previous night, known members of the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) were among those who tried to break the police lines at Drumcree. Within minutes, helicopters containing Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers in riot gear landed and took up positions. They fired over a dozen rounds of plastic bullets.

Tens of thousands of Orangemen and Loyalists are expected in Drumcree for the Twelfth of July celebrations and the security forces will be severely tested if the situation escalates further.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 9 July 1998. The reporter is Michael O’Kane.