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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 September 2005, 19:45 GMT 20:45 UK
Orde 'rejects Orange criticism'
Orange Order leader Robert Saulters
Robert Saulters said police were aggressive
Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde has rejected criticism from the Orange Order of the police operation at Saturday's Whiterock parade in Belfast.

Orange Order grand master Robert Saulters described the police's handling of the parade as aggressive and arrogant.

The Order said there was no evidence members were involved in violence.

However, police released video in which they said Orangemen were clearly seen attacking the security forces.

Sir Hugh said Orangemen joined in attacks on police, which saw 60 officers hurt during days of rioting after the Belfast march.

Mr Saulters said the Order regarded itself as blameless. He said violence after the re-routed parade was a "cry of desperation".


Speaking at a news conference on Wednesday, Mr Saulters blamed the police, the Parades Commission and the government for causing the trouble after the Whiterock parade.

"Perhaps the most worrying thing about the weekend's events is the widespread feelings of frustration within the Protestant community," he said.

"The extent to which ordinary, decent and reasonable men have been goaded into behaving out of character by the authorities and their insistence on appeasing and rewarding nationalists at the expense of loyalists."

Mr Saulters said he would not comment on any disciplinary action against Order members, but said there would probably be an inquiry.

"They may have protected themselves but there certainly wasn't violence. If a policeman comes at you with a baton you'll certainly put up your hand or something to stop them," he added.

Whiterock parade
The Order says it is blameless over trouble at the march

When asked about the events of the last few days the Belfast County Grand Master Dawson Bailie said he would "do nothing different".

However, Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain said the police video evidence he had seen was categorical, with Orangemen taking off their collarettes, picking up stones and throwing them at the police.

"Maybe it was a minority of Orange Order members, I'm sure it was, but the Orange Order organised that parade which resulted and sparked off this vicious and ferocious violence and lethal violence against police officers," he said.

"They must take responsibility for that and I hope it won't happen again."

Sixty-three people were arrested and 60 police officers hurt during three nights of rioting which started after the re-routed west Belfast march on Saturday.

The chief constable said the Order was substantially responsible for the disturbances which followed the parade.

Police officers and soldiers were shot at, attacked with petrol bombs, blast bombs and other missiles during three nights of what police described as "orchestrated violence".

Dozens of hijacked vehicles were also set on fire at a number of locations across Northern Ireland.

See police video of the riots over the weekend

Q and A: Orange marches
13 Sep 05 |  Northern Ireland
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13 Sep 05 |  Northern Ireland
Protestant fears and loyalist anger
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13 Sep 05 |  Northern Ireland
NI sees 'worst rioting in years'
11 Sep 05 |  Northern Ireland

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