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Water cannon used in Northern Ireland for first time in six years

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Water cannon used during 2013 loyalist riots DAVID FITZGERALD/PACEMAKER PRESS

Water cannon used during 2013 loyalist riots DAVID FITZGERALD/PACEMAKER PRESS

Water cannon used during 2013 loyalist riots DAVID FITZGERALD/PACEMAKER PRESS

Rioting and disorder in Belfast on Thursday night saw the PSNI deploy its water cannon for the first time in six years.

The PSNI deployed water cannon to disperse crowds during disorder on the Springfield Road in west Belfast on Thursday evening.

The police force has six of the vehicles at its disposal, kept in different police facilities across Northern Ireland to ensure it can respond quickly to outbreaks of disorder.

The last time water cannon were deployed in the region was during loyalist rioting in July and August 2015, following clashes between the police and rioters as a result of contentious Orange Order parades in west Belfast.

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Before that, water cannon were deployed 14 times throughout June and July 2011, as significant rioting broke out in interface areas of east and west Belfast.

They also saw use during disorder in July 2010, after police came under attack in the nationalist area of the New Lodge. Police deployed the water cannons eight times on that occasion.

Between July 2012 and January 2013, the cannons were deployed on more than seventeen occasions. This coincided with large-scale loyalist flag protests that took place across the year.

Northern Ireland is the only region of the UK which uses water cannon in riot situations. The former Prime Minister Theresa May banned the use of the vehicles in England and Wales when she was Home Secretary in 2015.


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