Belfast Telegraph

Police stop anti-internment parade

Trouble breaks out after controversial Republican march is halted in north Belfast.

Trouble has broken out in north Belfast after a controversial anti-internment parade was stopped by police on Sunday.

The march was halted at the Oldpark Road where organisers addressed the crowd before the procession began to disperse.

Rioters then began throwing petrols bombs, stones and bottles at police lines following the decision to prevent the parade continuing to the city centre.

Water cannon were deployed at the junction of the Oldpark Road and Rosapenna Street to disperse the rioters.

The demonstration by the Anti-Internment League had been due to make its way from north Belfast to the west of the city via the city centre.

Loyalist protesters gathered on Royal Avenue on Sunday afternoon in expectation of the parade following its planned route.

In a statement the police said the procession had been stopped due to a breach of Parades Commission determinations.

It read: "In upholding the Parade’s Commission determination, the Anti Internment League parade has been stopped by police on the corner of the Oldpark Road and Rosapenna Street.

"Parade organisers and those participating are advised by police that the parade has breached the conditions of the Parades Commission determination which stipulated that it must have cleared the Divis Street / Millfield junction by 1.30pm."

The anti-internment marchers had been granted permission by the Parades Commission adjudication body to pass through a main shopping thoroughfare but only before 1.30pm.

With that deadline passed, commanders made clear the parade would be stopped on its way into the city.

There was a massive security presence on the route the march was due to take.

Ulster Unionist policing spokesperson, Ross Hussey MLA, condemned the organisers of the parade for putting the police in an "impossible" position.

“The failure of republicans to comply with a Parades Commission determination has once again put the PSNI in an impossible position. It is clear that the police went more than the extra mile in attempting to reach a solution to the parade dispute but despite their best efforts the organisers decided they would challenge the determination," said Mr Hussey.

“The fact that petrol bombs were thrown at the police indicates that there was an element of preparation to attack police officers. The use of water cannon is perfectly justified in these circumstances. No other police force in the UK would have to face such dangers."

He added: “I hope that following this attack on the police and the deliberate breach of the determination the authorities are swift to bring those responsible to the courts. I also want to see the judiciary take the view that petrol bombers are out to kill and to ensure punishment for those appearing before the courts fits the crime.”

The parade marks the introduction of internment without trial by the Stormont administration, with the support of the UK Government, during the height of the Troubles in August 1971.

The controversial policy of detaining terrorist suspects without trial ended in 1975. However, the parade organisers - the Anti-Internment League - allege it is still effectively operated by the state authorities in the present day.

Last year there were minor disturbances at the event but in 2013 almost 60 police officers were injured when loyalist protesters rioted in the city centre.

PSNI assistant chief constable Stephen Martin called for calm.

"A substantial police operation is currently in place and we are committed to ensuring that we keep people safe and protect and uphold the rights of all those involved," he said.

Belfast Telegraph Digital


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