The PSNI chief was reacting to Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly who criticised the use of plastic bullets, calling it “a retrograde step”.
In an interview with the Belfast Telegraph, the Stormont junior minister said they should not have been used.
He has raised the matter with police, Northern Ireland Office Minister Paul Goggins and the Police Ombudsman.
“I phoned the Ombudsman to make sure there was an investigation into the use of plastic bullets,” Mr Kelly said.
“I don’t know how long it’s been since plastic bullets were used — it’s years.”
But the Chief Constable reacted by asking: “Has he got an alternative?”
Twenty-one officers were injured on Monday in violence orchestrated by dissident republicans during which a shot was fired and pipe-bombs thrown.
Police responded using 17 plastic bullets.
“I watched the events unfold,” Sir Hugh Orde told this newspaper, marking the first time he has spoken publicly about the riots.
“The care around the minimum use of force and human rights considerations were embedded in the operational thinking and deployment.”
“It was constantly reviewed and in my judgment the actions of the officers were entirely proportionate to the threat, and in many parts of the world I have absolutely no doubt that live fire would have been used in that situation.”
The Chief Constable monitored events from the PSNI command room.
“It is incredible that when being shot at my officers acted with the restraint they did,” he said.
On the issue of the use of plastic bullets, he said: “Everybody is strangely silent on what else we could have done.”
Sir Hugh who leaves his post in September to become President of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), accused dissidents of “trying to drag Northern Ireland backwards”.
He said they were “wrecking the lives of the people in north Belfast — the local residents”.
The Chief Constable also believes that dissidents are trying to further destabilise the situation by provoking a reaction from mainstream republicans.