Belfast Telegraph

Republican march: Belfast city centre parade which sparked rioting last year passes off largely peacefully

Some minor trouble as bottles and fireworks thrown

By John Mulgrew

A republican parade which sparked off mass rioting in Belfast city centre last year has passed off largely without trouble.

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One officer and one member of the public each sustained a minor injury during the march on Sunday afternoon.

The city was on lockdown as dozens of police Land Rovers, officers and road blocks secured Belfast ahead of a large anti-internment parade passing through.

Missiles and fireworks were thrown as marchers passed by two planned loyalist protests at the top of Royal Avenue - Belfast's main shopping area.

There were no reports of any injuries.

But despite chanting and jeering, Belfast avoided the scenes it witnessed in 2013 - after rioting broke out leading to 56 police officers being injured.

The parade of several hundred people passed by without serious incident - republicans waved Irish flags and held banners calling for the "End of British Internment".

Police officers lined the streets, with dozens of Land Rovers on stand-by.

Dozens of riot police formed a barrier between the opposing groups on Royal Avenue.

Water cannons and other support vehicles were also parked close-by.

Today's march began the Ardoyne area of north Belfast at 1pm before heading into the city centre.

It made its way past two loyalist protest parades shortly before 2.30pm.

Some 4,000 republican marchers were due to take part in today's parade, with the same again in supporter numbers.

Last year, over 1,000 loyalist protesters gathered on Royal Avenue - the city's main thoroughfare - this time last year, against the march marking the introduction of internment during the Troubles.

Fifty-six police officers were injured during the subsequent rioting - as missiles were thrown during a chaotic night of

On Friday night, Orange banners and Union flags were among the items that went up in flames as bonfires took place marking the anniversary of the introduction of internment.

Speaking today following the parade, PSNI assistant chief constable, Mark Hamilton said:

"Today's parade and associated protests passed off with minor trouble, with a number of fireworks and missiles thrown as the parade passed through Royal Avenue.

"One officer and one member of the public are reported to have each sustained a minor injury.

"There was a considerable policing operation put in place throughout the city centre today to ensure that the Parades Commission determinations in respect of the parade and the associated protests were upheld.

"Our focus was, as always, on keeping people safe.

"Police will now review all evidence gathered and pursue all relevant lines of inquiry relating to any offences or breaches of the Parades Commission determinations."

To read the full determination by the Parades Commission, click here.

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