UK: Protestant protesters clash with police in Northern Ireland

14th Jul 2013

There have been renewed clashes on the streets of Belfast surrounding traditional Orange Day parades. This came despite the police having called in reinforcements from elsewhere in the United Kingdom.

Northern Ireland police came under attack for a second night running late on Saturday, with hooded youths hurling bricks, bottles and other missiles at them. Police responded with batons and water cannon.

Saturday night’s clashes in the Woodvale area of the city were not a bad as those on Friday, which left 32 officers wounded in scenes that Chief Constable Matt Baggott of the Police Service of Northern Ireland described as “both shameful and disgraceful.”

He also criticized the leadership of the Orange Order for calling for street protests after the authorities banned Protestants from marching through a Catholic district of Belfast.

Reinforcements sent

“Some of their language was emotive and having called thousands of people to protest they had no plan and no control,” Baggott told reporters after Friday’s clashes. “Rather than being responsible, I think the word for that is reckless.”

Following Friday’s clashes, about 400 police officers were sent as reinforcements to Belfast from the British mainland. Around 20 people have been arrested in connection with the violence.

Despite the 1998 peace deal, which ended much of the strife along religious and nationalist lines in Northern Ireland, violence still flares from time to time.

The Orange Day parades, held on July 12 each year, mark the victory of Protestant King William of Orange over the Catholic King James at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.

pfd/mkg (Reuters, dpa, AFPE)

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