Almost 50 police hurt in parade trouble

Published Monday, 03 September 2012
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A total of 47 police officers were injured during "significant" disorder which broke out at a republican parade in north Belfast, it has emerged.

Almost 50 police hurt in parade trouble
A total of 47 police officers have been injured during rioting in north Belfast. (© Pacemaker)

Four were taken to hospital with injuries to the head legs and chest after they were attacked with hundreds of fireworks, 34 petrol bombs, bits of masonry and lasers in the Carlisle Circus, Clifton Street and Antrim Road areas of the city on Sunday.

A further 43 received various minor wounds.

One 17-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of riotous behaviour and is currently assisting police with their inquiries.

The trouble flared after a loyalist crowd gathered to protest at the march organised by the Henry Joy McCracken Republican Flute Band.

Most of the violence was directed at police lines.

The PSNI responded by deploying water cannons in Denmark Street and Antrim Road but no baton rounds were fired.

Trouble continued overnight until the area was reported calm at around 2am.

"I am both angry and sad that my officers have been subjected to such significant attack," said Chief Supt George Clarke.

"They showed tremendous courage in the face of enduring violence. As well as responding to public disorder and protecting the community and property, a robust evidence gathering operation was in place throughout yesterday.

"People will be held to account for their actions."

Up to 300 people and two bands, accompanied by 100 supporters, were expected to take part in the march from Duncairn Parade in the New Lodge area to the Clifton Street Cemetery at Henry Place.

A crowd congregated between the Belfast Orange Hall and Carlisle Circus. Police said they had been notified about a lawful parade but not about a protest.

When officers arrived on the scene they observed that some of those who had gathered masked their faces and began breaking up pieces of masonry.

Every hour of disorder in Northern Ireland not only puts lives at risk, it also reduces confidence in our community and wastes huge amounts of money that could be better spent on schools and hospitals. Violence cannot be a solution.

Chief Supt George Clarke

Efforts were made to talk to community representatives and reduced tensions, however police lines came under attack by members of the crowd described as "intent on violence".

Police moved the crowd in a graduated response back toward Carlisle Circus to allow the lawful parade to pass its notified route.

A number of bricks and other missiles were exchanged between the parade supporters and the protestors as the parade passed through the area but the most sustained violence was directed at police lines. As the parade dispersed youths attacked police in the Antrim Road area.

In a statement, parade organisers, the Republic Network for Unity (RNU), claimed that marchers came under "a sustained attack" from loyalist protesters at Henry Street.

"Republicans were showered with a barrage of bricks, stones, golf balls and bottles," the statement continued.

The republican group claimed that before the trouble erupted the march had passed peacefully through the New Lodge, North Queen Street and Carrickhill areas.

They say they "understand that some local youths retaliated against the loyalist attack", adding they "will do all that we can to help ease any tensions in the area."

Tensions have simmered after trouble erupted close to a Catholic church on nearby Donegall Street last week.

Seven police officers were injured during disorder at the Royal Black Institution parade on Saturday 25 August.

Earlier that day, a loyalist band defied a Parades Commission ban to march past St Patrick's Church.

The Young Conway Volunteers were banned by the watchdog after they were filmed playing a song alleged to be sectarian outside the church on the Twelfth of July.

Meanwhile, the Orange Order has condemned an attack on the Clifton Street Orange Hall on Sunday, which they say was carried out "by a large crowd".

County Master Tom Haire said: "I condemn those who took part in this dastardly attack, unfortunately it is the outworking of those whose hatred and intolerance of all things Protestant and British is manifested in the campaign against traditional parades."

He said there was "no justification for the attack."

Organisers say last year's parade passed off without incident.

© UTV News
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55 Comments
Ryan in Belfast wrote (757 days ago):
All parades have to be rerouted, especially loyalist/orange parades, thats the only solution to this problem. Its not fair on residents to have bands going near/through their area where their cleary not welcome. It doesnt matter if a parade goes its "traditional" route, thats not a valid reason for a parade to go where its not welcome. Get with the times, we're in 2012, not 1912, parades should only go where their going to be welcome. Common sense.
Danny in Ulster wrote (757 days ago):
@Cynical - I understand what you are saying, but don't hold your breath waiting on that happening, change is a very slow process in our wee country...
Tomc in Belfast wrote (757 days ago):
Ronnie in Belfast - were you recalling this sequence of events in your dreams? 1000 supporters at the republican parade?? Protestants defending women?? Your wife hit by a half brick?? Are you for real? Stop the special brew and face reality. This was thug, animalistic, moronic rioting which was ignited, maintained and sustained by the "loyalist" side. There's no excusing or justifying that....everyone bangs on about parade this and parade that - NO this was purely about starting a riot, and a riot which terrorised the old and infirm - shame? The people who were involved have no shame. Scum without shame!
Cynical in Belfast wrote (757 days ago):
@Danny, thousands take part, BUT, tens and hundreds of thousands do not.... are increasingly getting fed up with the damage parades do and fed up with picking up the tab!!!. Time to get them off public roads and into private venues. If this isn't acceptable then its time they were banned.
Pedro Alvarez in Another Planet Thank God wrote (757 days ago):
When are Unionist politicians going to wake up and realise that a very large section of the Protestant/Unionist population are disgusted with the behaviour and attitude of the so called loyal orders, their bands and supporters. It should be remembered that this started with a band playing a sectarian song outside a Catholic church. To say it was simply a Beach Boys song is pathetic - they knew exactly what they were doing, Nelson McCausland. When are Unionist politicians going to take my views and the views of all my friends and relatives into account, or as modearate Unionists do we not matter - it seems all they care about are the views of Orangemen. It is time moderate people stood up and started demanding that our rights to a peaceful life with a future to look forward to are respected. If Republicans and Loyalists want to march make them pay for policing costs. As for the rest of us STOP VOTING FOR THE SAME IDIOT, SECTARIAN POLITICIANS.
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