26 PSNI officers hurt in Belfast clashes

Published Friday, 09 August 2013
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Twenty-six police officers and two members of the public have been injured in violent clashes as hundreds of loyalists protested in Belfast over an anti-internment rally.

26 PSNI officers hurt in Belfast clashes
A police officer is injured during clashes in Belfast city centre. (© Presseye)

A PSNI spokeswoman confirmed that five officers were taken to hospital while others were treated at the scene of severe rioting, at the junction of Royal Avenue and North Street in the city centre, on Friday night.

An Ulster Unionist MLA is also understood to be among those injured and taken to hospital.

According to reports on social media pages belonging to east Belfast representative Michael Copeland, he and his family were involved in an incident with police and are said to be making allegations of heavy-handedness by officers.

Mr Copeland is believed to be making a formal complaint.

Meanwhile, a number of parked vehicles have been set on fire in the North Street area.

Police responded to the disorder with two water cannon and 20 baton rounds in a bid to restore calm.

A spokesperson said serious disorder also broke out in Carrick Hill, Peters Hill and Millfield in north Belfast.

Whilst facilitating the Parades Commission determination for tonight's parade and associated protests, police have come under heavy and sustained attack by crowds intent on creating disorder.

PSNI ACC George Hamilton

Commenting on the disorder, PSNI ACC George Hamilton said: "As Northern Ireland moves ahead, the effect of tonight's violence has the potential to damage the local economy and the reputation of Belfast as a tourist destination.

"As disturbances are continuing, I would call upon people of influence in communities and those in political leadership to do all possible to reduce tension."

Thousands of people took park in the Anti-Internment League rally, while six loyalist organisations held counter protests.

Two residents' groups - involving an estimated 300 people - were granted permission to demonstrate at Royal Avenue.

A further four protests were planned by other organisations, including No 2 District Loyal Orange Lodge, and aimed to attract a further 600 people.

They were given the go-ahead by the Parades Commission, but with restrictions on the numbers of supporters to be allowed.

What should have been a great week for the city, with thousands of visitors for the World Police & Fire Games, has ended badly and the image of Northern Ireland has been tarnished by violence.

Nelson McCausland, DUP MLA

The parade route started at Ardoyne Avenue, moving along the Oldpark Road, Rosapenna Street, the Cliftonville Road, through the New Lodge and into the city centre.

But as trouble flared police sealed off North Queen Street stopping the parade from progressing towards Royal Avenue.

Missiles were thrown from both sides at police lines. Water cannon was used at the bottom of the Shankill Road to keep the crowd apart from the rally, which then moved on towards west Belfast.

Reacting to the violence, North Belfast DUP MLA Nelson McCausland commented: "The march by a dissident republican rabble was designed to provoke a violent loyalist reaction and it succeeded.

"We would appeal for an end to any violence and want to meet urgently with the PSNI and the Secretary of State to discuss the events in Belfast tonight, including the role of the Parades Commission and the policing operation."

Sinn Féin's deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness tweeted: "Those responsible for tonight's violence against the police are the combined forces of the UVF & OO in N Belfast."

Organisers had previously appealed for calm.

Dee Fennell said: "This is a parade over a human rights issue, not a republican parade and certainly not a dissident republican parade."

Police have said all roads have re-opened to traffic, except the lower end of the Shankill Road, which remains closed.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
293 Comments
God in Cognito wrote (497 days ago):
Gary and poppy you are exactly what is wrong with this country. Idiots who think they know everything when infact they know nothing. There is a big picture open your eyes. Yes wrongs were done by ira, inla, guarda etc. But so too were there wrongs done by uvf, uda, udr, ruc etc. its 2013. Time to move on and stop dwelling in the past. Live for tomorrow. Forget the pasts horrors and concentrate on making a future for ourselves and our children. We are all equal and should start to treat each other that way. Ban ALL parades. Integrate ALL schools.
Ryan in An Dun wrote (497 days ago):
@Poppy Belfast first of all ulster has 9 counties, not 6.. We may not live to see a united Ireland but it will come about. The British stole land all over the world. They where run out of places like America and India after taking what they wanted of course e.g. Your Queens crown is Indian. And do you really think that if the British government could get out of the north that they would? It's a drain on the tax payer with the marching season etc draining money that could be better used. Republicans have a parade and they are slammed? This was an internment parade. people where put in prison without crime or trial. they where second class citizens no matter what way you look at it. You may be looking at your loyalist view of history. Wake up and smell the coffee. This is a great time to be a Republican. You have your views and I have mine and I am proud to be a republican.
M in N'abbey wrote (497 days ago):
Poppy in Belfast, lol, what a rant . You should have saved yourself all those words and just wrote, "Hello my name is Poppy and I am a bigot" you would have made exactly the same points but in far less words "yawn".
lolly in greenisland wrote (497 days ago):
This comment's page is a disgrace if your not bitter before you read the comment's you will be before you finish. Are these people primary school age yet?
Mike in England wrote (497 days ago):
Poppy sweetheart. Sorry to burst your bubble. That poll was done by the bbc. 2000 people surveyed. One word comes to mind with that poll done by the bbc and that's biased!!! All the Union cares about is keeping Scotland. Lets just wait and see my dear. When you have a proper vote and not this silly poll! Time will tell.
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