Loyalist projectile thrown at police during Public Order (Northern Ireland) Order protest
Material: golf ball, nails
Dimensions: 10 x 10 cm
Source: Police Museum 165/91
A projectile made from a golf ball and nails that was thrown at the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) in Lurgan during a Loyalist protest against the Public Order (Northern Ireland) Order. Every year, there are a large number of parades in Northern Ireland. The largest number of parades are organised by the Orange Order during the summer months. The majority of these marches are peaceful, however those that enter Catholic areas can cause disturbances. In 1984, the policing of 2,400 demonstrations required the equivalent of 39,000 police officers and cost £2 million. Chief Constable Hermon decided to take a tougher stance with the 1,450 Loyalist and 450 Republican parades planned for 1985. By agreement and confrontation, the police rerouted provocative marches away from 50 known flashpoints. Although the majority of parades passed off peacefully, there were violent skirmishes with the police in Portadown, Cookstown and Castlewellan. The new strategy caused serious Protestant disaffection with the RUC and Loyalist mobs began attacking the residences and cars of police members. In 1986, out of 1,950 marches, only 67 were accompanied by disturbances.
In 1987, the new Public Order (Northern Ireland) Order regulations gave the police tougher powers to control and direct processions. Formal notification of all events except funerals had to be given to the police. The Rev. Ian Paisley and other Unionists called it “a recipe for civil war” and there were Loyalist protests. The Orange Order introduced a new band contract which controlled the playing of provocative tunes and banned marchers from drinking in transit to and from parades. The new regulations reduced the level of disturbances and there was disorder at only 26 of the 1,976 demonstrations held that year.