Row erupts over claims of UVF involvement in Belfast riots
The UVF has been accused of orchestrating Sunday’s violence on the edge of Belfast city centre.
Some 47 police officers were hurt as serious trouble flared in the Carlisle Circus, Clifton Street and Antrim Road areas.
A total of 34 petrol bombs, hundreds of fireworks and countless rocks were hurled as police battled to retain order when violence erupted at a march organised by a republican flute band.
Police said the trouble was started by loyalist protesters, but declined to comment on claims that paramilitaries were behind it.
Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly said loyalists — believed to be in the region of 350 — were intent on trouble and he blamed the UVF for orchestrating the riot.
“It should not have been contentious; it was made contentious,” he added.
“I got a phone call yesterday just after 2pm about over 300 loyalists coming out onto the road there. They were there with the intent of making it contentious and with the intent of violence.”
Republican Network for Unity spokesman Ciaran Cunningham said: “Let’s remember, last year’s march passed off without incident. The trouble yesterday was designed, it was engineered and it was deliberate.”
The Progressive Unionist Party’s Ken Wilkinson rejected claims the violence was planned and hit out at the Parades Commission for giving the march the go-ahead.
“People coming out pointing the finger at paramilitary organisations orchestrating this, I reject that 100%,” he said.