Trouble 'clearly orchestrated' - PSNI

Published Monday, 03 September 2012
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Police have said there was "clearly orchestration" behind the disorder which followed a republican parade in north Belfast on Sunday.

Trouble 'clearly orchestrated' - PSNI
The trouble has been condemned. (© Pacemaker)

A total of 47 officers were injured after 34 petrol bombs, hundreds of fireworks and pieces of masonry were thrown at them in the Carlisle Circus, Clifton Street and Antrim Road areas.

The trouble flared after a loyalist crowd of up to 350 people gathered to protest at a march organised by a Republican Flute Band.

Chief Supt George Clarke said there is "no doubt" the violence was organised, however it is too early to say if paramilitaries were involved.

"The violence did come from both sides of the community but initially, certainly, it came from within loyalism," he told UTV. "That's a fact.

"There was clearly orchestration, there's no doubt about that.

"Three hundred people on Clifton Street, masonry broken up by people using concrete saws, there's no doubt about orchestration, but I'm not going to stand here and tell you I believe an organisation was involved - it's frankly too early to say that."

However Ken Wilkinson of the PUP disagreed and criticised the Parades Commission for allowing the event to go ahead.

"What I saw was not orchestrated," he said. "It started as a peaceful demonstration against a republican parade.

"There has been a few contentious parades here in the last couple of weeks and for the Parades Commission to say this wasn't going to be contentious, taking place within 100 yards of a predominately loyalist estate facing an Orange Hall, boggles the mind."

All of us in civic society need to engage seriously on these issues before they result in further unacceptable violence being displayed against my officers.

Chief Constable Matt Baggott

Stormont's deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said the decisions of the Parades Commission must be respected and upheld.

"There is a duty on the loyal orders and on Unionist politicians to respect the decisions of the Parades Commission and abide by the rule of law," Mr McGuinness told UTV.

"I unreservedly condemn these riots."

Meanwhile Nelson McCausland of the DUP said he was "disappointed" with what had happened.

"The violence yesterday was organised and orchestrated and the question as to the motivation behind the orchestration is better put to those who organised it," he said.

"I'm very disappointed that we've seen such violence again. Whatever the background, whatever the reasons there is nothing that justify that."

Justice Minister David Ford said the Stormont Executive discussed the issue on Monday afternoon.

He said the First and deputy First Ministers are to meet community leaders in north Belfast.

"Clearly as Justice Minister, I am extremely worried about the outcome of yesterday's march. The fact that 47 police officers were injured is a disgrace. It has to be addressed in a way in which ensures that we do not ask police officers to hold the line in future in such a way," the Alliance leader said.

Alban Maginness of the SDLP said: "Worryingly, last night's rioting appears to be further defiance of law and order, the PSNI and the Parades Commission. It's time for politicians, particularly, to show some leadership to defuse tensions and create a better environment where people can live in peace without fear of coming under attack."

Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt said: "The violence on the streets yesterday was wrong, legally and morally wrong. And to the extent that some of it came from the loyalist and unionist community, it was strategically wrong as well, playing into the hands of those republicans who want to write off any attempt to make progress."

Most of the overnight violence was directed at police lines. Officers responded with water cannons and the area was reported calm at around 2am on Monday.

Four officers whose injuries required hospital treatment have now been discharged.

A 17-year-old boy has been charged with riotous assembly, assault on police and resisting arrest, and is due to appear at Belfast Youth Court on Tuesday.

Chief Constable Matt Baggott said: "I am very proud of the courage and restraint shown by my officers last evening, in the face of extreme violence that resulted in 47 officers being injured and a number needing hospital treatment."

The chairman of the Policing Board, Brian Rea, also condemned those responsible and said members will be discussing the issue with Mr Baggott at their meeting on Thursday.

He said: "The sporadic violence and disorder was disgraceful and the large number of police officers injured is both shocking and shameful.

"There is no justification whatsoever for such violence been directed at our officers."

© UTV News
Comments Comments
14 Comments
annoyed in uk wrote (779 days ago):
can someone ask gerry kelly what the grand master of the orange has to do with the trouble at carlisle circus and is the aoh going to explain the trouble at ardoyne st.patricks antrim rd etc
Unhappy Nationalist in Republicanland wrote (779 days ago):
Those republican "supporters" should not have threw objects at loyalists despite being insulted, they need to learn to rise above it. The previous year's parade passed off peacefully so of course it was orchestrated.
paul in Belfast wrote (779 days ago):
It is high time that this nonsense was stopped. Regardless of your politics, whether it be nationalist or unionist, brawling in the street must be condemned by both communities. This is 2012, not 1972, not 1982 nor 1992. Times have moved on and the majority of people in Northern Ireland can live together peacefully, it's high time that the minority who are hell bent on causing mayhem followed suit.
Steff in Belfast wrote (779 days ago):
These marches no longer fulfill their purpose of honouring the dead. If they are no longer fit for purpose then they should be terminated. All they do is give those hell bent on trouble an excuse to get onto the streets and riot. Stop ALL parades and don't give either side an platform to publically display their sectarian bigotry. Its the same EVERY year and the normal man on the street who doesn't care what religion you are is sick to the back teeth of it.
Vee in Belfast wrote (779 days ago):
Of course the violence of the last 2 nights was orchestrated. It doesn't take too many brain cells to work that one out. But the speaking as a Catholic - the parade organisers should never have allowed the parade to go ahead in the present circumstances. Neither should the Orange Order have shown themselves up by their display of triumphalism and hatred outside St Patricks Church a few weeks ago. There is where the trouble started. There is blame on both sides and it is high time the lot of you WISED UP! By the way, why is it that commentators to UTV cannot spell or write English grammar properlyf?
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