BELFAST, Northern Ireland — Last-minute efforts to defuse the violent confrontation over Protestant marches in Northern Ireland crashed into a wall of harsh words and suspicions Friday.
The leader of the Orange Order brotherhood in the mostly Protestant town of Portadown, Harold Gracey, said he would not negotiate at all unless his followers were permitted to parade Sunday through the town's main Roman Catholic neighborhood, Garvaghy Road.
His demand undercut a new compromise that had been presented hours earlier in Gracey's name, though it was written by advisors.
Breandan MacCionnaith, the former Irish Republican Army prisoner who since 1995 has led anti-Orange protesters on Garvaghy Road, dismissed his opponents' initiative as "a tired old proposal from tired old men who can't face up to the reality of what is happening around them."
The Orange document offered the prospect of opening talks with MacCionnaith if the ban on passing through Garvaghy Road is lifted.