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Ugly scenes of violence return as politicians are jolted into action

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A police officer is injured and taken away in an ambulance during Monday night's trouble in north Belfast

A police officer is injured and taken away in an ambulance during Monday night's trouble in north Belfast

A police officer is injured and taken away in an ambulance during Monday night's trouble in north Belfast

A police officer is injured and taken away in an ambulance during Monday night's trouble in north Belfast

Monday night's trouble in north Belfast

Monday night's trouble in north Belfast

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A police officer is injured and taken away in an ambulance during Monday night's trouble in north Belfast

Serious rioting broke out in the Carlisle Circus area of north Belfast for the second night running.

Bricks, bottles, fireworks and petrol bombs rained down on police on Monday night from the loyalist Denmark Street area.

A hijacked vehicle was also pushed into police lines.

In response riot officers and four water cannon were deployed, with the trouble flaring sporadically into the night.

Around 150 nationalists gathered at the bottom of the Antrim Road but were kept back by police lines and stood watching the trouble.

Police said nine officers were injured, with three needing hospital treatment, while six plastic baton rounds were fired.

The violence came as Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness finally moved to calm spiralling tensions surrounding parades following two weekends of violence in the same area.

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The First and Deputy First Ministers are to launch a joint initiative to resolve the impasse in north and west Belfast amid fears of further violence at the Ulster Covenant march later this month.

They have sent invitations to “all the key players” to attend talks with them, according to senior political sources.

The move comes more than a week after trouble flared in north Belfast after loyalists ignored a Parades Commission determination not to play music outside a Catholic church.

There was more violence on Sunday when almost 50 police officers were hurt following protests against a republican parade in the area.

Their move will be given added impetus by Monday night’s further trouble.

It is thought that the two political leaders will attempt to broker a local resolution independently of the Parades Commission.

The imperative is to resolve the issue before September 29 when a feeder parade to the massive Ulster Covenant commemoration will pass through north Belfast.

The Ulster Covenant Parade is intended to be the largest event of its kind since 1990, and tensions have risen massively.

Sinn Fein and the DUP are both keen to resolve the issue before then because of fears that dissident republicans and loyalist hardliners — particularly the UVF — could exploit the situation.

A senior Executive source said: “This is on the back of lengthy discussions on the Executive about parading. The First Minister and Deputy First Minister said they had met earlier in the day and they are issuing invitations to the key people in north Belfast to get them in, have a chat and see how this gets moved forward.

“There is now a collective mood on the Executive that this needs to be fixed and we need to calm everybody down.”

The initiative was welcomed by Brian Rea, the chairman of the Policing Board. He described the news as “a tremendous encouragement”. He added: “I believe that they, along with community leaders, will have the influence to bring this kind of horror to an end.”

Mr Robinson and Mr McGuinness were impressed by the offers from many of those caught up in the disorder to try and resolve the issues through dialogue.

On the loyalist side these include loyal order leaders like Millar Farr of the Royal Black Preceptory and the Rev Mervyn Gibson, an Orange Order chaplain.

On the other side, Fr Michael Sheehan of St Patrick’s Catholic church, where seven police officers were recently injured when loyalist bands defied a Parades Commission ruling, and the nationalist residents of Carrick Hill.

Justice Minister David Ford welcomed the initiative by Mr Robinson and Mr McGuinness.

He said: “I am extremely worried about the outcome of yesterday's march. The fact that 47 police officers were injured is a disgrace. It has to be addressed in a way in which ensures that we do not ask police officers to hold the line in future in such a way.”

A hint of what might be expected was given by Mr McGuinness during an event in Casement Park.

A source close to Mr McGuinness said: “Martin sympathised with the police officers injured. He basically said we have draft legislation which has been rejected by the Orange Order until such times as there is an alternative. The Parades Commission is the only show in town, unless we can move things forward by dialogue.”

The suggestion is that Sinn Fein and the DUP may revive their earlier proposals for a replacement of the Parades Commission and to try to use dialogue to resolve the current impasse.


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