Orange Order protests over paramilitary flags

ARMAGH Orangemen have spoken out against paramilitary flags being flown in the city, especially along their parade routes as they say they can inflame tensions.

They said this year's Twelfth was very successful, only being marred by the flying of some paramilitary flags in the city which they acknowledge may have led to raised tensions and the stoning of a bus after a hoax bomb alert.

The statement from the Armagh district said: "Following this year's successful Twelfth demonstration in Tandragee, we are looking forward to hosting next year's event in the city of Armagh.

"It should be a terrific day for the city and we are already making plans to ensure that the Armagh Twelfth of 2009 will be a very good day, enjoyed by thousands."

The statement said that one of the ways to ensure a peaceful day was to have no paramilitary trappings, which can lead to trouble.

"We were perturbed this year to see loyalist paramilitary flags in the Gaol Square and Barrack Street area of the city.

"We do not want any paramilitary flags in Armagh in the future – they have no part in our celebrations and can lead to an increase in tension.

"This may have been the reason why one of our buses was stoned by nationalists after it was diverted due to a bomb hoax.

"Fortunately no-one was injured.

The Armagh district statement said: "Our aim is to have a peaceful Twelfth in Armagh next year without any paramilitary flags and without any attacks on our members or supporters.

"We would ask all community leaders to ensure that our celebrations are respected and not disrupted in any way.

"The Twelfth is the biggest day in the Orange calendar and we want people in Armagh to remember it for all the right reasons."