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Last Updated: Monday, 19 September 2005, 10:26 GMT 11:26 UK
Can loyalist violence be stopped?
Burned out bus following night of rioting in Belfast
The government has announced it no longer considers the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) to be observing a ceasefire.

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain made the decision after reviewing a report on the UVF's feud with the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) last week.

The UVF was also blamed for orchestrating the riots sparked by the re-routing of an Orange Order march.

What can be done to end the violence? Should the authorities have acted more swiftly to stop the disturbances?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

SUGGEST A DEBATE
This topic was suggested by A, Belfast
With the latest troubles over the weekend, has Belfast progressed at all?

I don't think the parade should have been stopped. After all people in this country are free to express themselves and protest if they wish. I think we should be asking why was the parade stopped and if it hadn't been stopped would we have avoided this violence?
Steve, UK

This violence and disorder can be stopped but first the Orange Order has to actually admit that its members were involved and take some responsibility. They are currently saying they are "blameless" even though pictures have been broadcast on national TV of Orangemen going at police with ceremonial swords! These men are supposed to be pillars of their community.
Helen, Edinburgh

The problems that are experienced at this moment, is a reversal of the situation 20 years ago, when previously the nationalist community were rioting in Ulster because of issues concerning unemployment, low representation in Ulster at a political level, these issues are now being faced by the loyalist communities, where regeneration programmes have to organises sufficiently so that youngsters are not prey to loyalist paramilitaries as the youngsters from nationalist/republican communities were prey to IRA indoctrination.
Kenneth Onyejekwe, London, England

For years the IRA was used as a vehicle in the 'Loyalist cause'. The IRA is no longer and we are now seeing how far detached from civilisation certain factions of loyalists are. There is a massive gap in quality leadership and with many following the likes of Paisley, we shouldn't be too surprised at the latest state of loyalist affairs. Many good people on both sides in the Province have worked hard to build and live a normal life and these loyalist groups are too easily being allowed to diminish that.
C J, Glasgow, Scotland

I visited Northern Ireland a while back and found it to be a beautiful place with a vibrant and growing tourism industry. After witnessing the riots on TV, etc I for one will not be back and will take my money elsewhere. I imagine a lot of other tourists and businesses will be doing the same. These rioters from whatever 'side' will have no-one to blame but themselves for the lack of jobs, security and future for their children.
Adam, Edinburgh, Scotland

Recreational Rioting is instigated by those who have nothing better to do - in this case mainly those who feel left out of the prosperity, jobs, education and investment that has in recent times been flooding back into Belfast and the rest of Northern Ireland. There is a bigger, more-positive picture - but it's almost impossible for the combatants to stand back far enough to see it - especially if their community leaders are still fighting battles for things they have long-since won.
David Brunnen, Hampshire, UK

These latest riots are an attempt to incite sectarian violence to prevent the peace process going ahead
Barry Hogan, Whitehaven, England
Born in the UK but with Irish parents I'm blessed with being Catholic and having plenty of Protestant friends. Living together is possible as long as all sides agree to drive out the gun-toting bully boys and learn to appreciate each other for our differences (life would be boring without them). I think these latest riots are an attempt to incite sectarian violence to prevent the peace process going ahead. Sooner or later the ballot box will prevail. I'm hoping sooner. As a side note, a common misconception that Ulster only contains 6 counties - Ulster also contains Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan.
Barry Hogan, Whitehaven, England

If this was any other country in the Western World the Orange Order would be labelled a hate based organisation, and be outlawed.
Fergal Collins, Dublin, Ireland

All these people calling for a policing solution to the rioting just don't get it. When communities have no other way of getting themselves noticed, no police reaction, no matter how strong, will stop them. The only way to stop the unrest in working class loyalist areas is to sit up and listen to their concerns.
Scott, Londonderry

I feel that if the people of Northern Ireland had to fund the policing and army forces for their province without our subsidies they might think twice before engaging in their disgraceful violence.
Liz, UK

To Robert Day - what narrow-mindedness you have shown in your comments. Do you think people in Northern Ireland don't pay tax? Do you think the sons and daughters of Northern Irish people don't serve the British Army? The majority of people here are good, proud, decent and hard-working. Mainland investment in the province has been pitiful over the last 30 years. Get off your high horse and get your facts straight.
Will Donaldson, Belfast

We need schooling for parents to take responsibility for their children and ensure they are not rioting in the streets
Deirdre, Belfast
I was brought up in North Belfast. My brother had his windscreen smashed purely because he was driving towards a Catholic area. I am a nurse and I was driving to work in my uniform when protestant women protestors tried to take my car off me during the 12th of July one year. I now live in South Belfast and worry about my parents during times like this. They find it difficult to leave their house. I do not know how you can change ingrained hatred. We need schooling for parents to take responsibility for their children and ensure they are not rioting in the streets and teach their children to understand other religions.
Deirdre, Belfast, N. Ireland

I am appalled that this evening people working in Belfast were advised by the PSNI to vacate the city centre by 4p.m. Why does our government feel that it is right to bow down to terrorists here in N Ireland but not in the rest of the UK? Recent terrorism in London saw more police on the streets to protect the citizens and a general call to carry on with life - don't let the terrorists win! But here in Belfast we are told to go home as our streets have been taken over by terrorists and our government is helpless to prevent them! Is Tony Blair prepared to explain why?
Kathy Price, Belfast N. Ireland

It is incredible to see such scenes after the historic moves by PIRA recently. It is only the loyalist people who will suffer from this. While not fond of their marches - having endured them growing up in NI - the Orange 'culture' is part of the heritage of the island. However the orange order has to realise that it can not dictate where it can go. There are many people who do not want to listen to the bands! My message - turn your energies to politics!
Sean, London

Long term peace will only prosper if a complete cessation of symbols and parades that celebrate incite prejudice. Can you imagine what life would be like in Germany, if the WW2 Allies decided that they were going march through Berlin every year to celebrate D Day? These so called loyalist are loyal only to old ideas and prejudices..
Calvin, Singapore

I condemn the activities over the weekend, but as some suggested banning parades, I feel that would make things worse. After all, the trouble over the weekend was over a re-routed parade. Imagine what it would be like if they were banned.
G, Co Antrim

The 'loyalists' may think that they are paying their loyalty to their country the UK. But surely the UK could do without their brand of loyalty. If all the region could bring is division and violence would the UK not be better off without Northern Ireland.
VLL, UK

Parades leading to violence all to remember historical events. My home town of Carrickfergus is one of the major historical towns in Northern Ireland with thousands of years of historical relevance, yet these people are destroying it yet again, with residents in fear for their lives every time they have to leave their homes. What commitment is this to Northern Irish history!
P, Ex-Carrickfergus, Ex-N Ireland

The police need a no tolerance policy towards this kind of ridiculous behaviour; if the police were allowed to show brut force in dealing with these people, maybe they'd be less inclined to cause such destruction.
Peter, Liverpool, UK

It's a shame the trouble has flared up in Belfast. If children see adults behaving like this then they will copy the behaviour now or later on in their lives. The end to trouble will now be even longer as new 'recruits' who witness clashes have been 'born' to copy the violence. If you truly want peace then sometimes you have to lose face to get it. Is it worth it? The answer I believe is a big yes.
Kevin Humphreys, Liverpool England

I was on holiday in Belfast over the weekend and went to the area on Sunday where the riots were. I just can't understand why these people destroy their own neighbourhoods. The rioting seems ludicrous to me as these people are destroying their own environments. Where is the sense of pride in their neighbourhoods?
Shirin, Australia

It is sad and indicative of all of Northern Irelands troubles, as soon as one side (IRA) settle for peace that the other side (UDA/UVF) want to re-ignite the violence.
B Mallon, Aberdeen, Scotland

The vast majority of people in NI live perfectly law-abiding and happy lives
Mark, Hong Kong
The vast majority of people in NI live perfectly law-abiding and happy lives. I grew up there and don't remember ever fighting anyone or seeing a fight. There were riots aplenty in the UK in the 1980s and I don't remember anyone ever referring to inner-city English as terrorists. What you see on the television in NI is the inner city yob violence that exists in almost every English city even now.
Mark, Hong Kong

I don't see why the protestant marches can't continue as normal. On St Patrick's Day, Belfast (a city which has people from both sides of the community) is awash with tricolour flags and shamrocks, yet the protestant people don't complain, in fact, many of them join in the festivities, I know I do. Why can't the same courtesy be given to protestant marches?
M, Belfast, N Ireland

Treat both sides the same and universally ban all of these deliberately provocative marches. This "tradition" is a thinly-veiled excuse to just prolong the conflict and deeper entrench differences when the real world has moved on.
Anonymous, East Midlands, UK

I was born in NI, and recently went back for a most enjoyable holiday and a look around old childhood memories. But what makes my blood run cold is the ongoing displays of flags, painting, murals and other methods of declaring one's allegiance to whatever ' side' you are on. The sooner these badges are removed, the sooner the province will be able to get on with a normal life like the rest of the UK, where all religions co-exist in relative harmony. Let the police and army go in hard against terrorist thugs, whatever colour they wear.
Alan, Cardiff, Wales, UK

I travel to NI regularly on business and I hear first hand how entrenched both sides are. I fear that there will never be a solution. It has taken 400 years to get to this position.
Bob H, Glasgow

To un-named, nationalists in Northern Ireland were second class citizens for most of this century. It is not until the last 10 years that nationalists can have some confidence in our police force and have equal rights on the government. Clearly protestant politicians are not focused in getting the best for the communities and it shows through the anger of the communities.
Matt, Belfast

As a member of the Protestant community who has lived in Northern Ireland for all of my years, I find some of the previous comments on this page rather confusing. When I attend church on a Sunday, no one protests about it, tries to stop me or in any way makes me feel that my religion is being "suppressed". At no time was I taught in church that "marches are a core part of the protestant religion" nor do I remember any references to this fact in the Bible. However, the greatest mystery of all remains why of the many demonstrating for 'civil and religious liberties' so few appear to actually attend church or display any signs of the faith they profess.
N, Belfast, Northern Ireland

The problem in Northern Ireland seems to be very deep rooted
N. Rhodes, Leicestershire, UK
I am as critical as our politicians as anybody I know, but in the case of Northern Ireland, I think they have done a great job in recent years. They are ahead of the people, rather than lagging behind and jumping on the band-wagon like they usually do. The problem in Northern Ireland seems to me to be very deep rooted. We are expecting some of these people to give up the hatred and animosity that is all they have known all their lives. If we take that hatred away, they have nothing left. I cannot think of a good way to address this problem.
N. Rhodes, Leicestershire, UK

Why couldn't the march just be allowed to take its original route? Why should the protestants be the ones to back down. It's a long-standing tradition for the Northern Irish Protestants and should be allowed to continue.
John, London

Are these violent people orphans each living in a hut in the middle of nowhere? Of course not. They live in families with friends and neighbours around them. If the people of Ireland don't like the violence they can stop it. Either stop their family and friends themselves or turn them into the authorities. When they choose not to do that we must assume they prefer the violence to the peace. Simplistic but true.
Sandy, Derby, UK

I am disgusted at the violence and chaos that is being perpetuated in my name. I grew up in an atmosphere of fear and distrust. I do not want that for my daughter. All rational minded Protestants, like all rational minded Catholics simply want to go to and from work unharrased, to provide for our families and have a decent life. We have to stand up to the thugs and say no more! We need our politicians to listen to the majority - not the minority still stuck in another world - and move on.
Joann, Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland

I think there is a confusion over what the basis of the 'protestant' religion really is. As a protestant, my religious beliefs are not based on marches. The violence has to stop. There is investment in the North - but who wants to continue investment if people just riot and destroy it? The nationalist community have done well out of Peace money. The Loyalist community need to look at what they've done and try to do the same, rather than wind the clock back 30 years.
Anon, Co. Down, Northern Ireland

Is there no other alternative they can think of to get their point across?
Martin, London, UK
Ok, if these Northern Irish people say English people do not understand, could someone please explain to me how exactly hurting and injuring others and continuing a climate of hatred will help Loyalist people? I am genuinely curious. Is there no other alternative they can think of to get their point across?
Martin, London, UK

The protestant people of Northern Ireland have the civil right to walk the streets their fathers walked on. All these comments from people in England and Canada are completely misinformed and judgemental. It may not mean much to you, but marches are a core part of the protestant religion. We come together and celebrate as a community. However, because the Nationalist community is offended, we have to give up our beliefs? I don't think so. The riots are totally unjustifiable, but they are a physical representation of the frustration of the protestant people. Let's not forget - Nationalists have just recently held a parade in the predominately protestant Ballymena, wearing IRA uniform and playing music - something protestants are banned from doing.
Anon, Belfast, Northern Ireland

There are so many of these petty grievances around the world that are linked to religion but none of the participants ever stop to consider whether their chosen God would condone their behaviour. In the 21st century, with all the damage we have done to the world so far, it really is time to grow up and look to our larger responsibilities to the planet and humanity as a whole rather than trivial little squabbles that help nobody.
Nick, Reading, UK

The Loyalist politicians have failed their people and in turn Northern Ireland. Rather than embrace the changes that are sweeping through the province they have dug their heels in stayed entrenched in the past. Is it fear of change or is it fear of losing their power base? The people who look to these politicians need to voice their anger against them and not their own or other communities. Get them to work for the greater good and not their own personal bitter agendas.
Val, Ireland

We have a right to ask for civilised behaviour
Robert Day, Coventry, UK
To un-named of Belfast - the people of mainland Britain are the ones who have been supporting you for thirty years, by sending our soldiers to protect you, taking our share of casualties in the IRA bombing campaigns and above all paying our taxes to subsidise your society, your industry, your freedoms and your "right to tradition." We have a right to ask for civilised behaviour and a recognition that change is inevitable and has to be coped with. You've had it your own way for a very long time; now the boot is on the other foot, you don't like it.
Robert Day, Coventry, UK

I spent a terrific weekend in Belfast one week before the worst rioting in years. What I saw was a vibrant city on the up enjoying the benefits of slowly but surely increased tourism. I was dismayed and disappointed by the worst rioting in years. The facts are out of a city with a population of over 200,000; 700 were causing the violence.
Alan , Dunfermline Scotland

The Orange marches are a legitimate tradition, certainly. But people need to be clear that this violence has been displayed as a result of the 're-routing' of a march, not cancellation of a march or the stopping of a tradition, as some will try to have people from the outside believe. The bottom line is that Loyalists do not want change, where Nationalists are given equal rights.
MV, Derry, Ireland

The Loyalists are living in a dream world. The Britain they see themselves as part of doesn't exist anymore, and the Britain that exists now couldn't care less about them. The people of Ireland are the Loyalists' people now, and the sooner they realised that, got round a table and talked about it, then the sooner scenes like this will go away. And as for commemorating a battle that happened hundreds of years ago, it just highlights what century these people are living in. Get real, get talking.
Mark Rotherham, Colchester UK

Being a tradition doesn't justify the blatant, intended provocation
Matt Meeking, Philippines
I appreciate that these marches are seen as a tradition. But, being a tradition doesn't justify the blatant, intended provocation. By all means let these people have their silly marches but on the sole condition that they will not go anywhere near people who will be offended.
Matt Meeking, Philippines

I'm proud to be northern Irish. I went to a integrated school and I don't agree with the violence in Belfast but no one will understand the feelings of northern Irish Protestants. Our religion is being continuously suppressed and its about time it stopped. Enough is enough. It's just a pity it takes this level of violence for Protestants to be recognised and heard in Northern Ireland.
Unnamed, Northern Ireland

Well done, Val of Dublin, for pointing out that these "Loyalists" should start by showing their loyalty by not attacking the police etc. Perhaps these "loyalist" groups should also be forced to verifiably destroy all weapons, like they are demanding of the IRA? And don't think I am an IRA sympathiser - my best friend was killed in an IRA bomb, so I have no love for them either. Grow up and start acting like adults instead of like argumentative children in a playground!
Anonymous, Scotland

Clearly its time for Unionists leaders to start addressing loyalist violence with the same passion they attacked republican violence. There have been too many years of letting loyalist violence slide or even accepting it as a 'not-so-evil' necessity. Very few outsiders would even be unaware that the violence which started The Troubles in 1968 came from loyalist communities and gangs. Today's paramilitaries in loyalist communities seem more intent on securing illegal activities such as drug trade then worrying about allegiance to The Crown but it still makes a great soundbite!
Kathleen Carroll, New York, NY

How can attacking British police and army personnel possibly be described using the word 'Loyalist'?
Tom Stephens, Madrid, Spain.

This just shows that terrorism is not limited to Islamists. All cultures and religions have extremists, and the root of the problem goes to a feeling of being dealt with unjustly rather than blind faith.
Asad Nasir, London

Most of the messages I am seeing on this are from people who know nothing about life in Northern Ireland. Nationalists always get their way and loyalists never get their way. People are talking about issues which in no way are they affected by, so who are they to judge. They have not grown up with the troubles and the crimes against tradition. Marching in Northern Ireland is tradition, we are not being allowed to allow tradition to carry on. Loyalists are the victim, not the nationalists.
Un Named, Belfast

Why can't we all just get along?
G, Antrim, N Ireland
Why do we have to go back to the times of the troubles? Why can't we all just get along? Do you want your children brought up in this climate - because I sure don't. I am now worrying more about my children going to school and their safety.
G, Antrim, N Ireland

From their violent hateful actions, I find it hard to believe any of those involved have ever been to church or read the bible. But they still hide behind the banner of religion (on both sides).
Rob, Stoke

Has anybody done any surveys of what the British people as a whole think? The Loyalists will not do themselves any favours with behaviour like this. The fact is most English and Welsh people visit Eire, and have more affinity with Eire and most wouldn't really care whether or not Ireland becomes united.
Brian, Denbigh, Wales

Like the overwhelming majority of decent citizens in this beloved country of ours I am sick of the thugs destroying this beautiful land. It's about time the so-called Unionist politicians stood up to this, instead of stirring it up.
Colin Thomas, Lisburn, N Ireland

Don't these people have the imagination to see how life in Northern Ireland could be? My partner and I were getting quite excited about visiting Belfast and exploring Antrim, but have now decided against it. Imagine the benefits such a lovely place could derive from a thriving tourist industry and inward investment. Grow up and turn the gangsters in. Imagine the future - have look over the border.
Kevin, London

The burden of responsibility is now shifting from the Nationalist movement to the Loyalist movement. The Orange order and its followers have to realise that other sections of Northern Ireland have the right to lead a life away from intimidation and vice versa with nationalist intimidation of Protestants. Why does the Orange order have to march through a Catholic area? What other response do they expect in return?
D Power, Waterford, Ireland

Our Parades are as important to us
JC, Co. Antrim
To all those people living in Scotland and England who have told us to forget about ancient battles which we remember each year, by having parades, quite frankly you don't have a clue. This is our tradition. How would you like it if you were told to forget about the world wars which your country fought! Just forget about Guy Fawkes day for instance it no longer exists, or remembrance Sunday or the Trooping of the colour. Our Parades are as important to us as these dates are to you. I however condemn the violence which is going on at the minute the people rioting are a disgrace and are giving the Protestant people a bad name.
JC, Co. Antrim

I am actually related to the Orange Order through the marriage of a cousin. Her husband is shocked at the behaviour on show. Sure, be proud of your heritage, nothing wrong with that, but do not go about inciting hate. I go to Northern Ireland quite often, and I have never been attacked or victimised. The average citizen up there is lovely, the people I meet in Belfast are wonderful. It is only the minority causing the problems. And to JC: Nationalists getting their way? Sure why not, Loyalists had their way for hundreds of years, isn't it nice to see some equality?
Robb, Dublin

To JC and unnamed in N. Ireland - so if "marching in Northern Ireland is tradition, we are not being allowed to allow tradition to carry on." Is there now no hope, for violence itself has become a tradition for some and leadership of communities has not emerged that seems to be able to change that tradition.
M. D., Caribbean

If these so called "loyalists" are so intent on showing their "loyalty" to Queen & Country by marching on "the Queen's highway", maybe they might start by being loyal to Her Police Force and Her Armed Forces and not shooting and bombing them.
Val, Dublin, Ireland

I do not understand why your government does not ban all marches like this which in my world and in most civilized countries would be considered hate crimes. Are hate crimes a civil right in NI? It is clear to the world that this Orange order really does not want peace and would like to continue past oppression and perceived supremacy at all costs.
Sandra Jensen, Ontario, Canada

This is naked sectarianism plain and simple. The marching season is all about trying to promote some ideal of superiority over the catholic population. That is why they insist on marching in Catholic areas. If that ideal wasn't important to them, and all they wanted was to parade, then they could do it in many areas that share their culture and there wouldn't be an ounce of trouble. This is bigotry disguised as culture and is rightly condemned by all fair minded and civilised people
Tom, Surrey

Have these "so called Loyalists" no sense? They are not doing any good, instead they are showing themselves up and hurting their own people.
Mark Railton, Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland

It's hard for people to understand just how people feel unless they are there. I was born into a Loyalist Protestant family, and it was only after getting out of the Province that I realised how stupid the situation was, and my views turned to a nationalist slant. A good few members of my family were members of the Order, and even though they have left now, they still hold their beliefs. Until all the schools are combined and mixed, so that our children grow up together, there will always be a "them and us" divide, and people will be blind to all other points of view apart from their own.
Nick, UK

Trouble like this is always started because of these marches (banned from certain roads etc). I think all marching should be stopped from both loyalist and nationalist. I know it seems a bit extreme - but it might be the only way around this trouble every year. This is destroying our towns and cities.
Dan, Derry, N Ireland

The violence we have witnessed over the past few days is horrendous and there is no excuse for it at all. People are afraid to go out at night in their own area for fear of being attacked. It is clear there is no longer a loyalist ceasefire. Everyone should come out and condemn this violence and support the police who are consistently coming under attack.
Catherine, Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland

The fear in the Loyalist community is of change - change that will come about when the IRA finally decommission. Some wish, I honestly believe, that the IRA hold onto their guns, that way the 'status quo' such that it is will remain. Others still want to express their quite legitimate culture through displays of sectarianism in communities that clearly don't want it. The Orange culture is as legitimate as the Irish culture, however it must be expressed in ways that don't seek to impose a supposed superiority over nationalists.
P, Antrim, N Ireland

The Orange Order just provides an excuse for the outpouring of sectarian aggression from the protestant community who are without an outlet at which to direct their hatred now that the IRA look like winding up their campaign. They're deeply afraid of what's next. A community reliant on saying no is left not knowing what to do. A united Ireland and the IRA are of the agenda and Catholics shall have equal rights in terms of prosperity and right to live without intimidation from ancient brotherhoods such as the order. But this future isn't the 'Ulster' that they know and love, the one which has given them the priority for as long as they can remember. Obviously they want a return to the past.
Antony, Armagh

Integrate schools, no talk of religion and teach history
Derek, London, UK
Having separate schools along religious lines is one of the main causes of this kind of nonsense. To think, Tony Blair wants to have more of these educational establishments which will only lead to more religious hatred along Christian/non-Christian lines. Integrate schools, no talk of religion and teach history. How many of those marches even understand why a Protestant is called a Protestant? I'd bet an horrific afternoon of listening to sectarian songs that it's very few.
Derek, London, UK

Having witnessed one of these marches at close range before, I am of the impression that they are nothing more than ritualised hatred. From your feedback it is clear that few in UK are very keen to have the Loyalty of people like these.
John, Sydney, Australia

The marches are nothing other than a display of power as are the thousands of illegal flags and painted kerbstones displayed as territorial markers. They should be made to realise that you cannot simply march wherever you feel like intimidating local populace in the name of religious bigotry (not I might add history, which is used as a smoke screen to defend this behaviour) The people involved in so called Loyalism are nothing more than vicious criminals who in other societies would be condemned for their gang warfare, drug dealing, etc.
Steve, Scotland

These marches (and the mentality behind them) should have disappeared with the dinosaurs. They have got to be banned, and the pathetic participants encouraged to get lives instead.
Morris Hughes, Monmouth

These marches - by both sides - are nothing more than childish. They celebrate ancient battles and simply goad the other side. Anyone in Northern Ireland who wants peace should say forget the past. We won't march any longer. The marches achieve nothing except antagonising the "other side". If there's to be any hope of peace, there has to be a blurring of the lines so the divide is not so deep.
Mike, UK

It seems the only people who see peace in Ireland are the politicians. Peace requires a complete end to these marches both by Loyalist and Republicans. The reasons for the marches is purely an excuse to continue and install another generation of hatred in the country.
John, Basildon, Essex

I think the thing to do is to ban all marches. Both communities constantly remind each other of their past triumphs and injustices many going back over 300 years. They just antagonise each other. Can you imagine what England would be like if each year people of Norman ancestry held events to celebrate their victory over the Anglo-Saxons at the Battle of Hastings ? We would have a divided society that endured for over 900 years. To the people of Northern Ireland - move out of the past.
AK, Winchester

I fail to see why there are films of rioters throwing petrol bombs that aren't immediately followed by shots of the same rioter being arrested. Are our police forces unable to deploy firearms officers?
Jonathon Evans, Cardiff, UK

The violence over the weekend shows how unstable our country is
Laura Mageean, Co Down
I think the violence over the weekend shows how unstable our country is. Thugs take petrol bombs to the streets because they don't get what they want. At the end of the day they are doing nothing but bringing our country back to the state it was in 40 years ago. Maybe I'm wrong, but should Catholics not march in their own area and the Protestants in theirs?
Laura Mageean, Co Down

Why is it necessary for an Orange Order march to go through a predominantly Catholic area? Isn't this inciting religious hatred? People have to stop living in the past and look forward to peace and building bridges with other communities.
John, Glasgow, Scotland

What everyone, including the IRA, chooses to forget is that British troops were first sent to the province to protect Catholics from loyalist thugs like these. Unfortunately, this violence clearly has the support of a significant proportion of the protestant community - the people making up the 700 strong mob weren't all "loyalist paramilitaries".
Peter, Nottingham

I live on a road where the Orange Order march past my house. As the marchers passed I was threatened with death by members of the Orange Order and also was spat in the face. They then held a protest outside my house for an hour playing paramilitary songs, taking pictures of me, throwing bottles at windows of homes in the street. I thought the Orange Order was a religious organisation but the scenes I witnessed made me want to move out of Northern Ireland for good. I am unsure as to where I stand in relation to having been threatened to have my house burned so I am extremely stressed by all of this and am in fear of attacks on myself and my property.
Martin Cummins, Belfast

The violence will only stop if the so called loyalists want it to stop. The IRA have or are decommissioning their weapons but never has there been any government call for the loyalist to decommission. The loyalists want the IRA to agree to their terms, which they doing. But now the Orangemen must respect the Republican areas.
W P Derbyshire, London UK

I was a member of the Orange Order on parade in Belfast on Saturday, I saw the heavy handed police in action which lead to rioting which I condemn. I am an ex-policeman and I have never seen such un-professional policing - the secretary of state should resign - because he was warned tensions were high last week by leading unionist politicians but he did not even think it worth his while to meet with them. The madness of the decision by the anti-parades commission to re-route the parade - simply because of nationalist violence - was wrong and the commission should be replaced now.
John, Omagh, Co Tyrone

After decades of unrest the problem in NI is rooted deeply - growing up in such an environment is a vicious legacy and resorting to physical violence has become the norm. It will take a long time to put right generations. It will take a government with long term solutions not with short term band-aids which seems to be the policy of choice at the moment.
Keith, Zurich, CH

These people are a disgrace to this country and those organisations which are not speaking out to condemn this violence are as good as condoning it. Again, the minority destroy everything for the majority.
Julia, Belfast, Northern Ireland

Ban the marches if they can't be civilised. Why do they insist on marching into nationalist areas, the only reason I can think of is to intimidate the community. Religious hatred disguised as tradition, that's all it is. Where's Mr Paisley now when he should be condemning such a disgrace?
Rod Mc, West of Scotland

Disgraceful. Ok, the march should not have been re-routed but this reaction is absolutely disgraceful. Makes me ashamed to be British.
J, Britain

It is about time that Unionist/Loyalist politicians address the issues affecting their communities and stop shifting the blame on Republicans and nationalists
Jim, Belfast

I wish the Unionist politicians and the Orange order would get their act together and stop behaving like spoiled children. It's time for Northern Ireland to grow up and move on. It seems to me like the Unionist movements don't want to work towards a better country and for some bizarre reason want to keep hatred at the top of the agenda. I'm embarrassed to have them in the United Kingdom.
Martin, Edinburgh

My uncle is Hungarian, he fled during the uprising against Communist rule in 1956. He has seen for himself the bitter sectarian divides in parts of Eastern Europe (Yugoslavia being a prime example) and had this to say: "There will never be peace, they are bred to hate each other". Sadly the same argument can be applied to Northern Ireland. While the politics of hate are used in Northern Ireland, while children are taught that anyone who differs from them is inherently wrong, then there will never be peace. We have to break the cycle of hatred.
Dave Bowling, UK

The situation in N. Ireland is following the same lines as the early to mid sixties. These so called Loyalists will take on the forces of Law and Order and when they find that they cannot match them, then they will turn their attention to vulnerable Catholics - see recent happenings in the heartland of Dr. Paisley. The DUP, in particular, so devoid of policies and having no Sinn Fein/IRA bogeymen to attack have lost whatever control they ever had. Leadership, what leadership. The road ahead is fraught with difficulty and will remain so until sectarianism is confronted and defeated.
Harry Campbell, Florence, Italy

The events of the weekend has shown that political documentation such as the Good Friday Agreement bear little impact on deep rooted problems
William Phipps, London UK
The events of the weekend has shown that political documentation such as the Good Friday Agreement bear little impact on deep rooted problems involving matters of religion. As such, this is a problem with which any peace initiative will never be able to satisfy both the political and religious demands of all involved. Therefore the only action the government are able to take is quell the violence and protect the civilian interests in terms of giving fair representation to all manners of belief in the area.
William Phipps, London UK




SEE ALSO:
Hain and Orde discuss NI violence
12 Sep 05 |  Northern Ireland
Parade riots point to deeper unrest
11 Sep 05 |  Northern Ireland
Rioters 'intended to kill police'
11 Sep 05 |  Northern Ireland
Loyalist violence 'is appalling'
11 Sep 05 |  Northern Ireland
Violent clashes erupt in Belfast
11 Sep 05 |  Northern Ireland
Whiterock march re-routing stands
08 Sep 05 |  Northern Ireland


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