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Monday, 8 July, 2002, 11:56 GMT 12:56 UK
Head to head: Violence at Drumcree
Trouble flared after the parade
Trouble flared after the parade
Twenty-four police officers and a number of civilians were injured in violent clashes which followed Sunday's controversial Orange Order parade at Drumcree in County Armagh.

It flared after the annual parade was stopped from marching through a mainly nationalist area in Portadown.

Assistant Chief Constable Stephen White has defended his decision to scale down security this year and George Patton of the Orange Order said those involved would be disciplined.

But assembly member Brid Rodgers of the nationalist SDLP said the incident highlighted the need for political leadership and dialogue.


Assistant Chief Constable Stephen White

I'm very aware that not every member of the Orange Order is in any way involved or supports what happened.

But there were clearly people right at the front line standing beside the main officers of the district who were engaged, in not just spitting and heckling, but very serious violence.

Those people were identified and they will have a price to pay.

What they (the Orange Order) are promising me now is that they will have an internal investigation. There will be discipline. But it is much more than that. It is beyond that.

There were a few armchair critics saying afterwards about tactics and strategies of police being wrong. I was absolutely accurate in my prediction.

What I said was - we would be proportionate and develop our response depending on what we were faced with. That was accurate, the response was appropriate.

Assistant Chief Constable Stephen White
Stephen White: "Angry" at violence

I'm very happy that we gave people the opportunity to behave in a dignified way. We offered them respect. I'm afraid it didn't come back the other way.

Ultimately, (the responsibility) is with the individuals who carried out the acts of violence.

There's a clear contradiction of what some people in the Orange Order are saying. They were saying to me that they hoped for, and planned for, a peaceful protest.

I was very angry to hear some people from the Orange Order saying that they had told us that the security barrier would not be sufficient. That that was almost the reason why violence occurred.

This is a six foot six, three tonne, steel barrier with concrete bollards holding it in place.

If they thought for one moment that that was not going to hold back the violence they anticipated, why on earth were they not telling us?

Why on earth were they even taking part in a protest where they knew that was going to happen?

So I'm very angry that people let me down, people who our plans were shared with.

The biggest regret is that some of my officers were injured.


Orange Order's executive officer George Patton

The violence was horrific and totally out of order and we have no hesitation whatsoever in condemning it.

We will be investigating any of our members that were responsible and we will deal with that.

The officers of Portadown district and others who were working with him (Mr White) were looking for a peaceful protest. That was their desire.

They have been let down along with the rest of society by those who quite wrongly indulged in violence.

The blame openly lies with those individuals who engaged in that. The Order had no concept that they were going to be doing that.

George Patton: Violence was
George Patton: Violence was "horrific"

The Order has disciplinary procedures for anyone who breaks our rules or acts inappropriately for Orangemen and that would be put in place.

I don't think that violence is inevitable. The Order, at all levels, has made it very, very clear that we have no wish to have violence. And people who have violent intentions should stay away. I wish they would.

Not only are they acting morally incorrectly, they are doing tremendous damage to the cause of civil liberties for Portadown District.

I would extend the sympathy of the Order to the injured officers.


SDLP assembly member Brid Rodgers

All of the indications which were coming from every quarter, including the Orange Order, was that it would be peaceful, that there would be no violence.

I'm very deeply disappointed at what happened as will the vast majority of ordinary citizens in Portadown.

Political leaders need to start giving leadership and stop trying to find excuses for people who both break and law and attack the police.

SDLP assembly member Brid Rodgers
Brid Rodgers: "Disappointed with violence"

The clear message from this is the need for political leadership at all levels and also the need for a lack of ambivalence on all sides.

Part of their (the Orange Order's) responsibility will be simply not to promise to discipline those members who were clearly attacking the police force in a very vicious way, wearing Orange collarettes.

I would expect that the Orange Order will now give names to the police and ensure that those people who were guilty face the law and are brought to justice.

If that happens, there is a hope that for the rest of the marching season people will have got the message that nobody will tolerate that type of behaviour.

There is a way of resolving what is a microcosm of the conflict in Northern Ireland and that is by entering into dialogue.

After all this is a local dispute between the nationalist residents of the Garvaghy Road and the Orange Order who wish to impose their will on the residents and march through their area, while at the same time they don't have sufficient respect for them to sit down and talk to them.

There's no point in complaining unless they are prepared to do the obvious and the common sense thing - that is sitting down and coming to an agreement.

Find out more about the Drumcree dispute in Northern Ireland

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07 Jul 02 | N Ireland
07 Jul 02 | N Ireland
06 Jul 02 | N Ireland
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