Belfast: Worst Sectarian Violence Erupts Following Orange Order Parades

13 Jul

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Video: Northern Ireland Erupts In ‘Worst Violence’ 

Some of the worst sectarian violence in years has broken out in Northern Ireland as police fired baton rounds at rioters after coming under attack with petrol bombs, bricks, bottles and fireworks.

The worst disturbances occurred in a stand-off in Ardoyne in north Belfast , where a car was hijacked and set alight and police responded with water cannon and plastic bullets to quell the violence.Nationalist youths set a hijacked car alight during rioting in belfast

At least two officers were set alight briefly when petrol bombs exploded on or near them, Sky correspondent David Blevins, who was at the scene, said.

The trouble in Northern Ireland followed a nationalist protest march held to coincide with an Orange Order parade through the sectarian interface following the Twelfth commemorations.

The working-class residential area of Ardoyne has been the scene of serious trouble in the past between police and nationalists following similar loyal order parades.

 A police spokeswoman said: “Shortly before 7pm this evening a number of missiles, including bricks and masonry, were thrown at police in the Estorial Park area.”

Today’s Twelfth of July celebrations by Orangemen involved tens of thousands of members of the loyal orders walking the streets to commemorate the 1690 Battle of the Boyne victory of a Protestant over a Catholic monarch.

Violence also broke out in the nationalist areas of Broadway, Old Park and North Queen Street in the west of the city and continued through the early hours of this morning, with more than 40 petrol bombs being thrown.

A number of vehicles were reportedly hijacked in the area, with a motorcycle and at least one van set on fire, according to police.

Sinn Fein Assembly member Daithi McKay said cars were also burned in Ballymena, County Antrim.

In Londonderry, crowds gathered and a van was ablaze on a flyover close to Free Derry Corner.

Members of the force dealing with the trouble in Londonderry arrested a youth aged 14 on suspicion of riotous behaviour and recovered a crate of petrol bombs.

Alliance Party Belfast City Council member Billy Webb said the riots in Ardoyne were causing enormous damage to the local community.

“Residents in the area are the ones who suffer the most with people feeling trapped in the own homes, scared to go out. Bus services are also affected in the area which the vulnerable rely upon,” he said.

“This trouble is putting Northern Ireland in the headlines around the world for all the wrong reasons.”

Police in Ballymena confirmed that a local photographer was hit by a baton round in Ardoyne, and that several officers had been injured and vehicles hijacked.

One of Northern Ireland’s most senior police officers appealed for calm.

Assistant Chief Constable Alistair Finlay said the public disorder that has taken place in pockets of north Belfast, east Belfast, Londonderry, and other parts of Northern Ireland was totally unacceptable.

 Mr Finlay said: “The past 24 hours has been a very challenging time for communities and policing in Northern Ireland.

“Whilst I commend the bravery and leadership of many within the community who worked tirelessly to reduce the disorder and calm tensions – we need everyone to keep working to build and maintain calm across all local areas.

“My colleagues are working around the clock to protect the community right across Northern Ireland and we have sufficient resources in place to do this.”

He warned that police would examine CCTV security camera footage to identify perpetrators of the violence.

Last year 40 people were arrested and charged following disorder in Ardoyne over the Twelfth period.

NEWS UPDATE:

There was further rioting in north Belfast overnight after the return of a 12 July Orange Order parade through the Ardoyne area, with nationalist youths clashing with police.

 Belfast - Orangemen parade through a nationalist area
Belfast – Orangemen parade through a nationalist area
 
Belfast - Police dealt with 'significant disorder'

Belfast – Police dealt with ‘significant disorder’

Violence flares across Northern Ireland

There was further rioting in north Belfast overnight after the return of a 12 July Orange Order parade through the Ardoyne area.

Nationalist youths throwing fireworks, petrol bombs and other missiles engaged in running battles with police who used a water cannon and fired baton rounds.

Several police officers were injured and a press photographer was sit by a baton round.

The area was said to be calm by 2am.

PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Alistair Finlay said police had dealt with significant public disorder and thanked community leaders and representatives who worked hard to reduce tensions and calm the situation.

‘Whilst I commend the bravery and leadership of many within the community who worked tirelessly to reduce the disorder and calm tensions – we need everyone to keep working to build and maintain calm across all local areas.

‘My colleagues are working around the clock to protect the community right across Northern Ireland and we have sufficient resources in place to do this.’

He said the policing operation in Ardoyne was ‘proportionate’ and confirmed that several officers have been injured.

‘My colleagues have acted with great professionalism to keep communities safe under very difficult circumstances,’ he added.

Police say they also dealt with disturbances, in south Belfast, Derry, Strabane, Newry, Ballymena and Armagh city.

A number of arrests were made on suspicion of riotous behaviour, including of juveniles.

The rioters were condemned by North Belfast DUP MP Nigel Dodds.

‘These people have been intent on attacking the police and wreaking havoc in their own community,’ he said.

‘Such violence is senseless and has clearly nothing to do with protesting against a parade but is just futile rioting,’ he said.

Alliance Party Belfast City Council member Billy Webb said the riots in Ardoyne had caused enormous damage to the local community.

‘Residents in the area are the ones who suffer the most with people feeling trapped in the own homes, scared to go out. Bus services are also affected in the area which the vulnerable rely upon,’ he said.

‘This trouble is putting Northern Ireland in the headlines around the world for all the wrong reasons.’

The 12 July celebrations by Orangemen involved tens of thousands of members of the loyal orders walking the streets to commemorate the 1690 Battle of the Boyne victory of Protestant King Willian over a Catholic King James.

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