Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

Police call for solution to marching disputes

The scene at the Ardoyne interface as the Orange Order march through the area
The scene at the Ardoyne interface as the Orange Order march through the area
A plastic bullet is fired (right side of the photo) as police clash with youths before a loyalist band parade passes the Ardoyne shops
The scene at the Ardoyne interface in north Belfast as police remove protesters blocking the road ahead of an Orange Order march
The scene at the Ardoyne interface in north Belfast as police remove protesters blocking the road ahead of an Orange Order march 2010
The scene at the Ardoyne interface in north Belfast as an Orange Order parade passes through the flashpoint area
The scene at the Ardoyne interface in north Belfast as police remove protesters blocking the road ahead of an Orange Order march
A police officer is brought to hosiptal after being injured during rioting at ARdoyne in north Belfast
Youths clash with police following an Orange Order march past Ardoyne shops in north Belfast
Youths clash with police following an Orange Order march past Ardoyne shops in north Belfast
Youths clash with police following an Orange Order march past Ardoyne shops in north Belfast
The scene at the Ardoyne interface in north Belfast as an Orange Order parade passes through the flashpoint area
The scene at the Ardoyne interface in north Belfast as an Orange Order parade passes through the flashpoint area
The scene at the Ardoyne interface in north Belfast as an Orange Order parade passes through the flashpoint area
The scene at the Ardoyne interface in north Belfast as an Orange Order parade passes through the flashpoint area
Youths clash with police following an Orange Order march past Ardoyne shops in north Belfast
Youths clash with police following an Orange Order march past Ardoyne shops in north Belfast
Youths clash with police following an Orange Order march past Ardoyne shops in north Belfast
Youths clash with police following an Orange Order march past Ardoyne shops in north Belfast
Youths clash with police following an Orange Order march past Ardoyne shops in north Belfast
The scene at the Ardoyne interface in north Belfast as an Orange Order parade passes through the flashpoint area
Youths clash with police following an Orange Order march past Ardoyne shops in north Belfast
Youths clash with police following an Orange Order march past Ardoyne shops in north Belfast
Youths clash with police following an Orange Order march past Ardoyne shops in north Belfast
The scene at the Ardoyne interface in north Belfast as police remove protesters blocking the road ahead of an Orange Order march
The scene at the Ardoyne interface in north Belfast as an Orange parade passes through the flashpoint area
Nationalist youths stage a rooftop protest as an Orange Order parade passes the Ardoyne shops in North Belfast
Police accompany the parade past the Ardoyne shops in north Belfast
Nationalist youths clash with riot police before an Orange Order parade passes the Ardoyne shops in north Belfast
Nationalist youths clash with riot police before an Orange Order parade passes the Ardoyne shops in north Belfast
Nationalist youths clash with riot police before an Orange Order parade passes the Ardoyne shops in north Belfast
Nationalist youths clash with riot police before an Orange Order parade passes the Ardoyne shops in north Belfast
Nationalist youths clash with riot police before an Orange Order parade passes the Ardoyne shops in north Belfast
Police accompany the Orange Order parade past the Ardoyne shops in north Belfast
Police accompany the Orange Order parade past the Ardoyne shops in north Belfast
A police officer is injured after she was struck by a concrete block pushed from the roof of a building as youths clashed with riot police after an Orange Order parade passed the Ardoyne shops in north Belfast
A police officer is injured after she was struck by a concrete block pushed from the roof of a building as youths clashed with riot police after an Orange Order parade passed the Ardoyne shops in north Belfast
A police officer is injured after she was struck by a concrete block pushed from the roof of a building as youths clashed with riot police after an Orange Order parade passed the Ardoyne shops in north Belfast
Nationalist youths clash with riot police before a loyalist band parade passes the Ardoyne shops in north Belfast
Youths clash with riot police before a loyalist band parade passes the Ardoyne shops
Police have fired a number of baton rounds after being attacked with petrol bombs by rioters in north Belfast
A PSNI landrover is attacked in Ardoyne, north Belfast
Police and nationalist protesters after an Orange Order march in north Belfast

PSNI chiefs today called for a long term solution to the annual parading disputes after another Twelfth of July was marred by serious rioting.

A number of officers were injured in Belfast last night - with one police woman taken to hospital - after being attacked by masked protestors throwing petrol bombs, bricks, bottles and, in one instance, a blast bomb.

In the most serious incident, police fired baton rounds and deployed water cannons in an effort to control nationalist rioters in the Ardoyne area in the north of the city.

The violent scenes at the flashpoint were all too familiar as crowds targeted officers who were there to escort a planned Orange march past the interface dividing loyalist and republican neighbourhoods.

Police were also attacked by rioters in violent flare ups elsewhere in Belfast and in other areas across Northern Ireland, including Lurgan, Co Armagh and Armagh city.

Last night's disturbances came after three police officers were shot with shotgun pellets during another bout of rioting in Belfast on Sunday night.

While the vast majority of Orange parades on the Twelfth - a traditional Protestant holiday marking the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 - pass without incident, the failure to resolve the competing demands of Orangemen and nationalist residents over the few remaining contentious marches invariably brings disorder to streets each July.

Police Service of Northern Ireland Assistant Chief Constable Alistair Finlay said the challenge was to find a way to resolve the sensitive parades for good.

"This is the only way we can move away from the disorder, tensions and fear that grips Northern Ireland every year," he said.

Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionists hammered out a new blueprint for parade management as part of the historic Hillisborough Agreement that secured the powersharing institutions in February.

The plan would see the controversial Parades Commission adjudication body replaced with a model more focused on obtaining local settlements to contentious marches.

But the proposals, which are due to come into effect at the start of next year, suffered a blow last week when the Orange Order rejected them.

Mr Finlay said: "We need to see real joined-up strategic political leadership, backed up by everyone in communities making their peaceful voices heard.

"Northern Ireland cannot afford to have violent images beamed across the world every summer - images which are totally unrepresentative of the vast majority of people who have embraced a peaceful and vibrant future."

Heavily armed riot police flanked the Orange lodge members as they made their way past the Ardoyne shops on the Crumlin Road.

They had to fend off a barrage of missiles thrown by nationalists angry that the annual march was allowed to take a route past their area.

Earlier, around 60 demonstrators who blocked the road in a sit-down protest were forcibly removed by officers in body armour.

As the incident unfolded a large crowd of loyalists gathered further up the road in a predominantly unionist neighbourhood to await the Orangemen, who were returning from the main Belfast Twelfth commemoration.

On Sunday night, two policemen and one policewoman were blasted with a shotgun fired by a masked man who emerged from a crowd of nationalists who attacked the police as traditional Protestant 11th Night celebrations took place.

Another 24 officers sustained injuries in that and a further separate riot on Sunday. Police said none of the injuries were life-threatening.

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