DUP MP injured in north Belfast riot

DUP MP injured in north Belfast riot

The Orange Order has suspended all planned protests against a Parades Commission determination, in the wake of serious rioting during which DUP MP Nigel Dodds and 23 police officers were injured.

Violence flared in both north and east Belfast on Friday evening, in the wake of Twelfth of July parades and protests, continuing into the night.

Members of the public were advised to avoid the Woodvale Road, Twaddell Avenue, the Westlink at York Street, and the Crumlin Road at Hesketh Street.

"In support of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland's appeal for calm, the Ligoniel lodges - with the full support of the County Grand Orange Lodge in Belfast - have decided to suspend their protest in relation to the determination for the Crumlin Road," Grand Chaplain Mervyn Gibson.

Mr Dodds, who is also a member of the Orange Order, was hit on the head by a missile thrown by loyalists at police and had to be taken to hospital by ambulance.

Petrol bombs, bricks, heavy masonry and fireworks were thrown at officers in the Woodvale area.

According to a PSNI spokesman, officers in north Belfast have also been attacked by people wielding ceremonial swords.

It is understood that a member of the public has also been hit with a baton round.

Police say 20 AEPs have been fired. Three water cannon have also been deployed.

I appeal for cool heads to prevail at this time.

First Minister Peter Robinson

The Police Federation for Northern Ireland has said that 21 PSNI officers and two from Great Britain have been injured across Belfast on Friday night.

It has been confirmed by DUP councillor Brian Kingston, who was with Nigel Dodds when he was injured, that his party colleague is "conscious and sitting up in hospital and talking".

First Minister and DUP leader Peter Robinson said: "Violence and attacks on the PSNI and the wider community are wrong, can never be justified, and must stop.

"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."

Mr Robinson added: "My thoughts are with those who have been injured this evening, including my colleague Nigel Dodds MP and other Orange Order members, police officers and civilians."

Meanwhile Sinn Féin North Belfast MLA Gerry Kelly was at the scene of trouble in the Crumlin Road area - where hundreds of nationalist residents gathered.

At one point, he climbed onto a police Land Rover to appeal for calm.

"Yesterday I said that if we were to have a peaceful Twelfth, there was a need for leadership from the Orange Order and from unionist politicians," Mr Kelly said.

"Today we have witnessed the exact opposite. Indeed, they have led their own people into violence on the streets this evening."

The Sinn Féin representative added: "Speech after speech at the various 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 tonight.

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

Loyalist marchers from three Ligoneil lodges earlier arrived at the junction of the Woodvale Road and Woodvale Parade, where they were not allowed to pass by police due to a Parades Commission determination.

Trouble has also flared in the York Road area.

Police say two people have been arrested so far in north Belfast - one man has been arrested for disorderly behaviour and one for provocative conduct.

There has also been serious disorder in east Belfast.

Justice Minister David Ford says Northern Ireland's post-G8 image has been seriously damaged and expressed his sympathies to the officers injured.

"Sadly, a number of young people are likely to end up with criminal records as a result of their actions tonight," the Alliance leader said.

"However, those who encouraged protests - knowing the tensions that existed throughout this week - also share a heavy responsibility for what has happened."

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 this evening.

Gerry Kelly, Sinn Féin

The violence broke out as Orange Order parades across Northern Ireland made their return journeys home from fields where lodges and bands gathered to celebrate the Twelfth.

Speaking at the flagship event in Londonderry earlier, Grand Master of the Orange Lodge of Ireland Edward Stevenson hit out at the watchdog's ruling over Ardoyne.

"The absurdity of preventing three Orange lodges in Ligoniel from partaking in a dignified parade on their return from the Twelfth celebrations, while rewarding those who engage in violence and go out of their way to be offended by our traditions, has surely sounded the death knell for this charade of a commission," he said.

"I call on the Secretary of State to immediately cease offering this unelected quango life support and finally put it out of its misery - for the good of all in Northern Ireland."

On Friday morning, the feeder parade in the Ardoyne area passed off without major incident.

The Parades Commission had ruled that lodges and bands could march, but without music or drumbeats and with only a maximum of 100 supporters in attendance.

But bandsmen marched passed the shopfronts to a single drumbeat, amid claims that more supporters than were permitted had been in attendance.

Recent days have demonstrated the increasing incompetence of the Parades Commission, as it continues on its relentless crusade to denigrate Orangeism and the values we hold dear.

Grand Master Edward Stevenson

Members of the nationalist Greater Ardoyne Residents' Collective (GARC) held a protest.

The parade was halted for a time by police as it approached the Ardoyne shops, due to crowd numbers, but was allowed to go ahead after negotiations with senior officers.

Ahead of the morning's parade, PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott visited north Belfast to view the major security operation.

A total of 4,000 police officers were involved in the Twelfth of July security operation across Northern Ireland as thousands of Orangemen and their supporters took part in 18 demonstrations.

On Thursday, the Orange Order accused the parades watchdog of creating a crisis and called for its members and supporters to engage in peaceful demonstrations.

© UTV

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