NORTHERN Ireland was spiralling towards more bloody chaos last night as violence broke out in nationalist communities over the decision to allow the Drumcree Orange parade through the Catholic Garvaghy Road.

A policewoman was shot and injured in an attack on an RUC patrol in Coalisland, County Tyrone. She was part of a patrol sitting in an RUC vehicle outside the local police station when a man ran out of a bar nearby and opened fire with a shotgun.

The East Tyrone Brigade of the IRA later admitted responsibility.

She was taken to hospital with head and facial injuries. Her condition was not believed to be life-threatening.

Fifteen civilians and 12 police officers were injured during riots following the march through Portadown's only predominantly Catholic district.

Police in Belfast twice came under fire. In the second attack, 20 rounds were fired at a patrol from an automatic weapon on the Crumlin Road.

Five shots were fired by a masked man at a police checkpoint near the Ormeau Bridge in south Belfast. No one was injured in the attacks.

A bomb was also thrown at a police station in north Belfast.

Sinn Fein's chief negotiator Martin McGuinness, MP, urged nationalists to take to the streets. He told a rally in Londonderry that people should ''stand up for their rights''.

The parade down the Garvaghy Road itself passed off peacefully as 2000 Orangemen marched in silence behind their lodge banner and Union flag. The one band that accompanied them did not play its instruments.

An eerie silence fell over the road as the first marchers turned in. As they proceeded, hundreds of nationalist residents, held back by a force of 1000 police and 500 troops, all heavily armed and in riot gear, started chanting.

As unrest tailed off in the bitterly divided County Armagh town, with only the burnt-out wreckage of two cars as a reminder of the chaos that had reigned earlier, violence and rioting spread throughout the Province.

In Belfast, an estimated 30 cars were hijacked and set alight in nationalist areas. Petrol bombers in the city's Short Strand forced police to close a slip road to the M3 There was violence in Armagh, Newry, and Lurgan.

In one incident, a 19-year-old student from Armagh, travelling to work at an occupational therapy centre, was pulled from his car and stoned because he had an accordion and band uniform in his passenger seat.

A train was hijacked as it left Lurgan. Passengers were forced from the train and all six carriages were set on fire.

Security forces were last night preparing for a troublesome period in the next few days. Observers believe there is now no prospect of a renewed IRA ceasefire.

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams described the policing of the Drumcree march as ''disgusting''.

He told a 5000-strong rally in west Belfast that never again would they be forced to lie down in the way that he believed had happened at Portadown.

The leadership of the Orange Order, the Grand Lodge of Ireland, called on Orangemen who had organised a series of right-to-march parades for the days ahead to call them off. However, that did not suggest the Order would want to see the traditional parades can-celled.

The man trying to resolve the parades problem, commission chairman Alistair Graham, went to Portadown as a parade observer. He said later: ''There must be a better way.''

RUC Chief Constable Ronnie Flanagan was last night said to have felt his decision to allow the Drumcree parade had been ''vindicated''. He said: ''The

choice I was left with was a simple, stark choice in terms of balancing two evils. Each evil threatened to bring about serious violence. I'm talking about loss of life.''

He apologised to residents of Garvaghy Road for the fact that the parade had to go ahead and said conditions had been imposed to make sure it would pass quietly.

However, anger was growing within the Republican community at what was seen as a''betrayal'' by Northern Ireland Secretary Mo Mowlam.

Dr Mowlam blamed intransigence from both Orangemen and Garvaghy residents for forcing the chief constable into making the decision.

She said the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland wanted a sensible accommodation, and she had done her utmost to achieve that, as had the chief constable.

She added: ''Many will be angered by what has occurred, but I appeal to them and to all with influence in their communities to exercise restraint.''

There was a re-strained reaction in Dublin where new Prime Minister Bertie Ahern said he was deeply disappointed by the decision to allow the march, and he understood the anger felt by nationalists. However, Mr Ahern appealed for calm and said he would continue to work with Dr Mowlam.

It is understood Mr Blair spoke to Mr Ahern yesterday morning and informed him about the march.

While the Irish Government is publicly avoiding an open clash with London, Ministers are privately incensed that their advice of last week that the march should be stopped was not heeded.

Earlier, around 2000 Drumcree Orangemen left the centre of Portadown to march through loyalist streets to church for their annual service without serious incident.

At 12.45pm a siren wailed across the Garvaghy estate - a well-orchestrated cry to residents bringing them as close to the marching route as possible.

As they were pushed by RUC officers down side streets, banging pots and screaming abuse, the Orangemen turned the corner into Garvaghy Road at 1pm precisely.

Stern faced and their band silent Orange leaders instructed members to ''look to the front''. A line of armoured vehicles, soldiers and police officers stretched to-wards the horizon.

As they walked off the road, trailed by 30 armoured vans, the security forces began to retreat from the Garvaghy estate. Youths armed with stones and bottles then hurled this ''kerbside confetti'' at police and soldiers. The Army officially warned residents to go back or soldiers would open fire with plastic bullets. This warning was ignored and within minutes the first rounds were opened on hundreds of rioting residents.It was followed by an uneasy calm.


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Minister in row over Orange membership

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