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Northern Ireland Bans Protestants from Marching Through Catholic Area - 2003-06-30

For the fifth consecutive year authorities in Northern Ireland have barred participants in an annual Protestant parade from marching through a Catholic area.

The province's parade commission upheld a restriction that prevents the Orange Order marchers from using Garvaghy Road in Portadown, a town southwest of Belfast on their route to Drumcree Church.

The Associated Press says parade commission members recognized the importance of the group's right to free assembly. But they refused to grant the Orange Order permission to use the road because they believe leaders have not achieved any meaningful communication with the Catholics in the area.

The staunchly pro-British Orangemen holds a series of summer marches to commemorate a 17th century Protestant victory over Catholic forces.

Catholics have strongly resented the parades and frequently pelted marchers with rocks, accompanied by name-calling.