Violence accompanies Orange marches in north Belfast


Republican youths throw rocks and petrol bombs at police during rioting in Northern Ireland. AFP photo
Republican youths throw rocks and petrol bombs at police during rioting in Northern Ireland. AFP photo

Violence erupted in the Ardoyne area of north Belfast on Tuesday night as Irish republican demonstrators protested against an annual Orange parade through the area.Petrol bombs and other missiles were thrown at police, while the security services responded with plastic bullets and water cannon in an effort to push back around 200 rioters.
The Orange parade is an annual march held by the members of the Orange Order on July 12 to mark Protestant Prince William of Orange’s victory over Catholic King James II.  The date is considered a key date by unionists in securing British rule in Ireland.A few dozen residents held a silent protest as they passed, while a small group of women sang the Irish national anthem. But hundreds of others were pinned by police vans and officers in riot gear into an estate a hundred meters from the marchers, a move residents said was heavy-handed, Al-Jazeera reported.
According to the police, a number of officers were injured and an officer’s head caught on fire when hit by a petrol bomb although the flames were quickly extinguished. Police said they had also come under attack on Tuesday evening in the mainly Catholic Markets area of Belfast, with rioters throwing bricks and fireworks and setting a car on fire.The Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective, or GARC, which opposes the Orange parade passing through the nationalist Ardoyne, held a protest in response to the Parades Commission’s decision to allow the march to pass by shops in the area, the BBC reported.
Nigel Dodds, a member of Parliament for the Democratic Union Party in north Belfast, said he did not think the violence had anything to do with the parade.

“This violence was intended, created and brought into existence by a small group of militant extreme republicans who were determined to have it, come what may,” he told the BBC.

Tuesday’s clashes marked the second consecutive night of unrest in the city.

Police told CNN that “calm had been restored” to Belfast by 2 a.m. Wednesday.

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