More trouble flares up in north Belfast

Sunday 14 July 2013 09.38
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Police were enforcing a ruling from the Parades Commission
Police were enforcing a ruling from the Parades Commission
An injured policeman is carried away during clashes with protesters in Ardoyne
An injured policeman is carried away during clashes with protesters in Ardoyne
DUP MP Nigel Dodds had appealed for calm before he was knocked out by a missile
DUP MP Nigel Dodds had appealed for calm before he was knocked out by a missile
Police vehicles were attacked during the riots
Police vehicles were attacked during the riots
Some loyalist protesters taunted police officers
Some loyalist protesters taunted police officers
Police responded with water cannon to try to deter the protesters
Police responded with water cannon to try to deter the protesters

Further violence has broken out in north Belfast in the same area where over 30 police were injured in rioting last night.

Bottles and other missiles have been thrown at police lines on the Woodvale Road. 

PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott has condemned those responsible for the riots in Belfast last night, which left at least 32 police officers injured.

Mr Baggott said 400 extra officers from around Britain are being deployed to Northern Ireland after the rioting, which also saw DUP MP Nigel Dodds treated in hospital.

Mr Dodds, who is MP for North Belfast, was struck on the head by a brick during the unrest on the Woodvale Road in his constituency.

More than 600 mutual aid officers from England, Scotland and Wales were already in Northern Ireland supporting the PSNI operation, as tension surrounding the traditional 12 July commemorations spiralled into disorder last night.

Trouble flared in the north of the city as police attempted to enforce a decision banning a controversial Orange Order parade from passing the republican Ardoyne area on the Crumlin Road.

Disorder spread to east Belfast during six hours of violence.

The Orange Order had originally called for protests against the determination of the Parades Commission adjudication body.

However, senior Orangemen last night called for protest action to be suspended in the wake of the violence.

"The scenes were both shameful and disgraceful," Mr Baggott said.

"We said that we were resolved to uphold the rule of law and the Parades Commission determination not to allow the return parade past the Ardoyne shop fronts. We did that. We did so impartially. We did so firmly.

"I cannot praise highly enough this morning the courage, the professionalism and the restraint of my PSNI colleagues, and those from England, Wales and Scotland who joined us in making sure the rule of law was upheld."

Mr Baggott also criticised those within the Orange Order who had called for protests.

He said they needed "to reflect on whether they provided the responsible leadership asked for by myself and by the (main political) party leaders.

"Some of their language was emotive and having called thousands of people to protest they had no plan and no control and, rather than being responsible, I think the word for that is reckless."

Petrol bombs, sticks, fireworks, drain pipes, and part of a wall were thrown at police. Some rioters even wielded swords.

In response, officers fired baton rounds and deployed water cannon.

No justification for violence - Villiers

Northern Ireland Secretary of State Theresa Villiers said there was no justification for the trouble.

"I utterly condemn the rioting that took place in Belfast last night. Attacks on the police are completely unacceptable and there can be no justification for this kind of behaviour," she said.

"This sort of behaviour does nothing to promote 'Britishness' or the pro-union cause."

Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly blamed the violence on the Orange Order and unionist politicians.

"Speech after speech at the various (Orange) demonstrations were clearly designed to stir up sectarian tension and have alongside the Orange Order's failure to abide by Parades Commission determinations led directly to the violence in Belfast," he said last night.

"No amount of hand-wringing or denial in the coming days from the Orange Order and unionist politicians can alter that reality.

"People had a right to expect better, instead what we got was a very deliberate strategy with the inevitable results being seen on the streets."

DUP leader and Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson had called for calm in Belfast.

"Violence and attacks on the PSNI and the wider community are wrong, can never be justified and must stop," he said.

"While there is justifiable anger and frustration at the Parades Commission, who bear much responsibility for the situation in Belfast, as do those who attacked parades as they passed certain locations, nonetheless, those who are using the cover of protest to attack the police are massively damaging the cause they support.

"Violence is undermining a just cause and runs totally against the wishes of the Orange Order for protest to be entirely peaceful."

Elsewhere, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore has condemned the violence.

He said: "The violence and disrespect for the rule of law we witnessed in Belfast last night is an affront to the decent people of that city and of this island.

"The rule of law must be respected, even when people disagree with lawful decisions.

"Political and civil leadership must never equivocate on these matters. Clear leadership, shown now, can help avert further violence this weekend."