Petrol bombs thrown in east Belfast

Petrol bombs thrown in east Belfast

A number of petrol bombs have been thrown at police officers during serious disorder in east Belfast on Friday night.

Two people have been arrested for rioting in the Lower Newtownards Road, where golf balls, bricks and fireworks were also thrown at police lines.

A PSNI spokesperson said no officers are believed to have been injured as a result.

Bricks, bottles and other items were also thrown between rival loyalist and nationalist crowds at the Short Strand interface.

Police said there was "an element within these crowds that is intent on violence".

A line of police land rovers and officers in riot gear moved in along the Lower Newtownards Road to disperse crowds.

UTV reporter Marc Mallett, who was at the scene, said: "The violence that I witnessed in east Belfast this evening was rather vicious. It all happened as Orangemen were trying to complete their parade returning along the Newtownards Road past the Short Strand interface."

Two water cannons were deployed in the area and the road was closed to motorists.

The Parades Commission must go but violence is not the way to achieve it. All protests must be peaceful.

Orange Order

Later it is understood a band was stopped on the Albertbridge Road to prevent it from approaching the area.

Castlereagh Street and Albertbridge Road were also closed due to a build up of crowds in the area.

On Twitter DUP leader Peter Robinson wrote that reports from party members "attest to the trouble starting when the parade was attacked from Short Strand".

Local Sinn Féin Councillor Niall O'Donnghaile described his comments as "highly irresponsible".

He said homes on Strand Walk and St Matthew's Church had been attacked on Friday.

"Some young people from within the Short Strand did then engage in stone throwing back and forward over the interface for a short period," he said.

"What was orchestrated was the decision of the Orange Order to wind up the situation in Belfast knowing it would result in violence on the streets."

Local MP Naomi Long said: "Violence is never inevitable and all attacks on the PSNI and community must be condemned.

"We need responsible language and leadership from elected representatives, rather than blame game politics to ensure this violence is brought to an end," the Alliance representative added.

Police said the Lower Newtownards Road, Castlereagh Street and Albertbridge Road have now reopened to traffic after crowds dispersed.

Serious disorder also erupted in north Belfast after an Orange feeder parade was prevented from passing the Ardoyne shopfronts.

Elsewhere police said crowds gathered on the Killylea Road in Armagh.

Reacting to the evening's events, the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland has called for calm.

© UTV

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