‘Militant republicans’ blamed for second night of violence in Belfast

Democratic Unionist MP denies violence was caused by loyalists’ insistence on marching past Catholic Ardoyne area

Henry McDonald
Ireland correspondent
belfast riots
Nationalist youths set fire to a hijacked car during rioting following an Orange parade in Belfast. Photograph: Stephen Wilson/AFP/Getty Images
North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds has blamed “militant republicans” opposed to the peace process for organising a sustained riot in the Ardoyne area that lasted into the early hours of Wednesday morning.
The Democratic Unionist MP said the violence, which lasted for more than six hours, had nothing to do with an Orange Order march past the area. Dodds pointed out there had also been a peaceful protest against the parade.
Police officers came under attack for the second night running, with petrol bombs and missiles thrown by youths from Ardoyne. There were also pockets of trouble elsewhere, with two cars hijacked and burned in the nationalist Market area of central Belfast. A riot in Derry’s Bogside led to seven arrests, including that of a 14-year-old boy.

The violence at the Brompton Park and Estoril Gardens entrances to Ardoyne continued into the early hours of Wednesday morning. Several police officers were injured, as well as a press photographer who was hit with a plastic baton round.
Police fired dozens of plastic bullets at rioters and repeatedly deployed water cannon after coming under attack from a crowd of up to 200 people.
At one stage a petrol bomb exploded on an officer’s head as he stood on the Crumlin Road shortly after 10pm. Colleagues doused the flames with a fire extinguisher and the officer escaped unhurt. The rioters also set fire to water cannon with petrol bombs.
The attackers kept up a constant barrage of stones, bottles and other missiles for several hours once a controversial Orange Order parade had passed the Ardoyne shops shortly after 7pm on Tuesday night.
The disturbances took place on the most important day in the Ulster loyalist marching calendar, just a few hours after previous riots that had left 24 police officers injured.
Most of the violence on Monday happened in the Broadway area of Belfast close to the Falls Road, where local republican youths fought running battles with riot squad officers who were blocking their way to a loyalist area across the M1 motorway.
On Tuesday night the tension continued on the Crumlin Road as Orangemen were verbally absued by groups of nationalist women as they returned from a rally in the south of the city. The women sang the Irish national anthem and hurled verbal insults at the marchers.

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