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The BBC's Valerie Jones at Drumcree
"Clouds of smoke and sparks billowing across the night sky"
 real 28k

The BBC's Kevin Connolly
"Normal life will go on until darkness comes again tonight"
 real 28k

Former UFF leader Johnny Adair
"I went to Drumcree in a peaceful manner"
 real 28k

Gary McMichael, UDP
"The curtailment of the democratic right to free expression"
 real 28k

Thursday, 6 July, 2000, 08:22 GMT 09:22 UK
Soldiers back on Belfast streets
Police have called in army back-up in Belfast
Police have called in army back-up in Belfast
Soldiers were brought back onto the streets of Belfast as loyalist protests supporting the Drumcree march campaign spilled over into violence.

The army had stopped patrolling in the city due to the improved security situation, but were called in to support the Royal Ulster Constabulary by senior police officers.

While protests in Drumcree itself were largely peaceful on Wednesday evening, there were a number of incidents in Belfast and other parts of Northern Ireland.

Roads were blocked by protesters and barricades erected in support of the Orange Order.

They are campaigning against a ban on their parade along a section of the mainly nationalist Garvaghy Road near Drumcree in Portadown, County Armagh.

Street protests by loyalists supporting the Orangemen over Sunday's Drumcree parade spilled over into sporadic violence on Wednesday evening.

Bedford Street in Belfast city centre
Protests caused traffic chaos in Belfast
In the Sandy Row area of Belfast, rioters attacked police after hijacking a number of vehicles, injuring three.

A gang of youths launched a sustained attack with bricks, bottles and other missiles when police moved in to recover a bus which had been hijacked.

Nearby, on the Donegall Road, a car was hijacked and set on fire.

The police came under attack during disturbances at Carlisle Circus in the north city centre for a second night. On Tuesday night shots were fired at the police from the loyalist Shankill area.

In Glengormley, County Antrim, rioters beat a man and hijacked his car.

Protests were also held in other towns around Northern Ireland including Carrickfergus, Lurgan and Ballynahinch.

'Reports of evil intent'

Speaking on the BBC's Newsline programme Northern Ireland's Chief Constable, Sir Ronnie Flanagan, called on "people of common good sense" to "stand up against" the troublemakers and support his officers in calming the situation across Northern Ireland.

RUC chief constable Sir Ronnie Flanagan
Sir Ronnie: "Disturbing reports"
He said he was very concerned because he had received reports that "some very evil people" on the extreme fringes of loyalism were planning attacks on the police "with blast bombs and firearms" in Belfast, Portadown and other areas of Northern Ireland.

"I have all the resources I need. But I need public support," he said.

He said his officers were doing "all humanly possible" to minimise disruption.

Drumcree wall of steel

In Portadown a steel barrier was erected at Drumcree in anticipation of another night of trouble.

On Tuesday a water-cannon was used on protesters for the first time in 30 years, but Wednesday night passed with only minor incidents, including the burning of tyres and the throwing of fireworks.

The barrier, 20ft high and 30ft wide, is made up of huge steel containers filled with concrete and topped with barbed wire. It was put in place at Drumcree bridge by army engineers.

It is expected to stay in place until after this weekend's main march.

A water cannon was used on protesters
The annual parade in Portadown has become the most contentious of the Protestant marching season.

The local Orange lodge march from the town centre to a church service at Drumcree.

But because of the Parades Commission ruling, the security force barricade stops them marching back to Portadown along the Garvaghy Road.

One of two small parades on Wednesday night was prevented from marching to Drumcree Hill by the cordon.

And in another development, the former loyalist paramilitary Ulster Freedom Fighters leader Johnny Adair again attended the Drumcree protest.

On Monday night Adair was filmed at a staged incident at which three masked gunmen from the splinter Loyalist Volunteer Force fired a volley of shots in a Portadown housing estate.

Violence will not work'

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson has insisted the violence would not force a reversal of the decision by the Parades Commission to bar Drumcree Orangemen from marching along the Garvaghy Road.

"This is not legitimate protest. This is not what the ordinary decent Orangemen want. This is pure thuggery," he said.

In 1997 the Drumcree parade was banned but finally allowed down the Garvaghy Road after days of loyalist violence across Northern Ireland.

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See also:

05 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
'Violent protesters not wanted'
05 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Loyalists urged to call off protest
05 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Drumcree violence spreads in NI
05 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Water cannon turned on protesters
04 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Police chief's Drumcree warning
04 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Loyalist gunmen in staged protest
03 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Commission ban on Drumcree parade
28 Jun 00 | Northern Ireland
Drumcree looms over Portadown
05 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Loyalists urged to end violence
06 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Drumcree protests 'out of control'
05 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Police hurt in NI clashes
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