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Wednesday, 10 July, 2002, 10:01 GMT 11:01 UK
Drumcree: Your reaction
Angry confrontations at Portadown's Orange Order parade on Sunday have left 24 police officers and at least two civilians injured.

The parade was brought to a halt by a 2,000-strong police and army barrier in the fifth year of a ban on marching along the mainly nationalist Garvaghy Road.

Police officers sustained facial and head injuries when a crowd forced the gates which closed Garvaghy Road to the march and threw stones at police.

The event is part of the marching season which commemorates the overthrow of Catholic King James II. While the Orange Order claim the march celebrates their heritage, many Catholics find it provocative.

Police had expected this year's march to be "peaceful and dignified" and were criticised by the Orange Order for scaling down the security operation.

What's your reaction to the trouble on Sunday? Will the rest of the week's marches go peacefully?

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

Your reaction

All marches should be banned

Chris Esson, Scotland
I think all marches should be banned. Let's face it, every march is just an excuse to reignite old hatreds. The people who attend these marches are nearly always extremists. There are wrongs on both sides of the divide but in a strange way it's good to know that the world can see these small minded bigots showing there true colours.
Chris Esson, Scotland

Chris Esson accuses the Orangemen of being "small minded bigots" in the same paragraph as he states that "all marches should be banned". Evidently the irony of this is lost on him. I am not an Orangeman, and I do not agree with what the order stands for, but I cannot accept that the attendees are "nearly always extremists". Only the extreme examples appear on the TV. The marches where I live - well away from interface areas - are more like open-air carnivals, and there is never any trouble. The Orange Order has given itself a bad name with what has been done at Drumcree, but they don't all deserve the same label.
Wesley, Northern Ireland

The majority of the people who attend these parades just want to be able to go about their business peacefully

Alison, Northern Ireland
I find it highly offensive when people who know very little about Northern Ireland describe those who take part in parades as small-minded bigots, and extremists. This quite simply is not true - the majority of parades in Northern Ireland pass off peacefully and occur in a dignified manner. There are people who attach themselves to the more controversial parades who are small-minded and bigoted. But please do not tar everyone with the same brush. The majority of the people who attend these parades are ordinary people who wish no-one any harm and just want to be able to go about their business peacefully.
Alison, Northern Ireland

As if it's not enough that the Orange Order are allowed to march about the place singing offensive songs and banging drums in parades aimed solely at intimidating and insulting their Catholic neighbours, the Orange Order marchers are now threatening and injuring police officers because they're not allowed to intimidate the residents of the Garvaghy Road. Ban the marches and the marchers, and enforce the ban with force. They serve no useful purpose and they threaten the peace process.
Sarah, Reading, UK

I cannot understand why such violence is expected annually at these marches

Carl, England
I cannot understand why such violence is permitted or drearily expected annually at these marches, what we saw yesterday is basically group assaults on Police Officers. If these scenes occurred on the mainland in the UK, there would be public outrage. Should the "hardcore" element of the marchers want to behave like this and cause violence, I believe the British Government should have the courage to take the gloves off and send in the "hardcore" of the British Army for a straight fight with them. Once the rioters realise the violence will be thrown back at them, throwing lumps of granite at Police Officers who are there to protect the public at large will maybe not be such an attractive prospect.
Carl, England

Every year we (outside the UK) watch this parade of trouble makers. I think the intelligent people of Northern Ireland left a long time ago. What we see now has nothing to do with demonstrations. It's just simply mindless violence by many stupid people.
Raymond, Netherlands

Thank you, Raymond! My mother's family left NI in the 50s after seeing too much death and violence. Her father puts it this way: "I just don't care anymore who is right and who is wrong. It just ceased to matter. So much evil done by both sides that I just had to get out and give my family a life. The 'hard men' on both sides cared not a whit for average people, they were fighting their own crusades, and we were just pawns, and expendable."
Fred Barnes, USA

Damned if you do, and damned if you don't. At least this proves that the security forces are not responsible for this annual hate fest.
Guy Chapman, UK

The PSNI is the only police force that cannot use real riot control

Damien Hull, NI
Nowhere else in the world would the level of violence seen on Sunday be tolerated. The PSNI is the only police force that cannot use real riot control to deal with public disorder. Why? If that happened in mainland Europe, the USA or any other country, they would be dealt with more force than one plastic bullet and a water cannon.
Damien Hull, NI

Hang on. Usually the police are "too heavy handed", or "provoke violence due to their extreme numbers". So this time they give the marchers the benefit of the doubt by reducing their presence and they are still in the wrong? And this is from the leaders of those who rioted? If they are looking for someone to blame, may I suggest the Orange Order look inside their own ranks. They were the ones throwing the stones.
Matt, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (ex-UK)

The marches are always in poor taste. They are provocative and have no place in the new climate of ceasefires and mutual arms decommissioning.
Mick Deal, UK

The march should be allowed down the Garvaghy Road on alternate years. That way the Protestants will be annoyed 50% of the time and the Catholics the other 50%, ensuring equal antagonism on both sides.
Martin, England

Find out more about the Drumcree dispute in Northern Ireland

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See also:

08 Jul 02 | N Ireland
06 Jul 02 | N Ireland
06 Jul 02 | N Ireland
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