Unionists threaten 'siege of Ulster'

The multi-party talks on the future of Northern Ireland will resume today without the main Unionist parties.

The Ulster Unionists said last night that because of the stand-off between Orange Order supporters and the Royal Ulster Constabulary at Drumcree, near Portadown, Co Armagh, they would not be fielding a team at the Stormont talks.

The Ulster Unionist leader, David Trimble, pledged: "We are not closing the doors by any means." His party colleague, the Rev Martin Smyth, a Grand Master of the Orange Order, added: "I don't believe we should be having the requiem mass for them [the peace talks] at this stage."

Democratic Unionist Party leader, Rev Ian Paisley, told crowds of protesters at Drumcree that he and Mr Trimble would meet the Prime Minister, John Major, tomorrow. A Downing Street spokesman said: "A request has been made to see the Prime Minister, which is under consideration."

The boycott of today's talks was announced after a day of ugly scenes as Orangemen stepped up their protest at not being allowed to march through a Catholic area in Drumcree.

Demonstrators closed the international airport at Aldergrove, just outside Belfast, by blocking its access roads.

Roads were also blocked at Bangor, Ballymena, Londonderry, Garvagh, Coleraine and throughout Belfast. The RUC was yesterday advising motorists not to travel unless the journey was absolutely necessary.

Last night, up to 2,000 police officers faced several thousand angry loyalists in Co Armagh.

By nightfall the arrest tally had reached 22, mainly for public order offences. A 19-year-old masked man was arrested on the outskirts of Portadown carrying a crossbow as he attempted to hijack a lorry. A crate of petrol bombs was found nearby.

Mr Trimble accused officers of "deliberate provocation" after they fired plastic bullets at loyalists as soldiers set up a concrete and barbed wire barricade on the Drumcree Road leading into the Catholic area of Garvaghy Road.

Numerous parades across the province took place in sympathy with the Orangemen at Drumcree, including one, accompanied by bands, through the centre of Portadown.

Loyalists hope that at least 300,000 people will show their solidarity in a protest in Drumcree on 12 July, the anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne.

Last night, the numbers of people at the site of the barred march at Drumcree swelled assympathisers flooded in from all over the province.

The district Orange leader, Harold Gracey, warned: "We have our contingency plans. I think the province is going to erupt," he added. "This is not just the siege of Drumcree but the siege of Ulster."

Within the 5,000-strong Catholic community, the feeling was of "resolute determination" not to allow the Orangemen have their way again.

Breandan MacCionnaith of the Garvaghy Road Residents Association said: "We have had two days of violence and there is no sign of the Unionist leaders trying to control their people."

Another Catholic leader warned that it seemed too late for any compromises to be made. "Things have gone too far," he said.

Last night the focal point of the stand-off was generally peaceful. Orange Order members who had been at the roadblock all day were replaced by members of lodges from different parts of the province as darkness fell. The demonstrators maintained a constant drumbeat.

The RUC said up to 70 roads in the province had been blocked by demonstrators.

Police said it was too early to link the murder of a Catholic man near Lurgan, a few miles from Portadown, with the sectarian disturbances in the town.

Part-time taxi-driver Michael McGoldrick, 31, from Lurgan, was found with head injuries yesterday morning.

Arts and Entertainment
Sheeran arrives at the 56th annual Grammy Awards earlier this year
musicYes, that would be Ed Sheeran, according to the BBC
Sport
Rio Ferdinand, Alan Shearer, Alan Hansen and Gary Lineker during Hansen's final broadcast
Sport
News
newsBear sweltering in zoo that reaches temperatures of 40 degrees
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll has brought out his female alter-ego Agnes Brown for Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie
filmComedy holds its place at top of the UK box office
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Ian Thorpe has thanked his supporters after the athlete said in an interview that he is gay
people
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Kathy Willis will showcase plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
radioPlants: From Roots to Riches has been two years in the making
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
Eminem's daughter Hailie has graduated from high school
music
Arts and Entertainment
Original Netflix series such as Orange Is The New Black are to benefit from a 'substantial' increase in investment
TVHoax announcement had caused outrage
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
One Direction star Harry Styles who says he has no plans to follow his pal Cara Delevingne down the catwalk.
peopleManagement confirms rumours singer is going it alone are false
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Arts and Entertainment
'Deep Breath' is Peter Capaldi's first full-length adventure as the twelfth Doctor
TVFirst episode of new series has ended up on the internet
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Life and Style
Once a month, waistline watcher Suran steps into a 3D body scanner that maps his body shape and records measurements with pinpoint accuracy
techFrom heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Web Developer (C#, ASP.NET, AJAX, JavaScript, MVC, HTML)

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Web Developer ...

C# R&D .NET Developer-Algorithms, WCF, WPF, Agile, ASP.NET,MVC

£50000 - £67000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# R&D .NE...

C# Developer (Web, HTML5, CSS3, ASP.NET, JS, Visual Studios)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Developer (ASP.NET, F#, SQL, MVC, Bootstrap, JavaScript)

£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Day In a Page

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?