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Parade Plan Provokes Belfast Catholics

July 08, 1999|Associated Press

BELFAST, Northern Ireland — Raising fears of street violence, Northern Ireland's conservative Protestant brotherhood announced surprise plans Wednesday to parade 20,000 members near a hostile Catholic part of this provincial capital.

The Orange Order said members of its Belfast lodges would march in solidarity Monday to the spot where British authorities already have barred a much smaller group of Orangemen from parading past the Catholic enclave of Lower Ormeau. Orange leaders insisted that their rally--just across Belfast's narrow Lagan River from the Catholic area--would avoid confrontation with police lines.

But the area's Catholic protest leader, Gerard Rice, called the plan "absolute madness" and said Orange leaders couldn't control such a large group.

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