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NI photographer tells of tear gas drama as English fans on rampage for a second night

By Tom White

A Northern Ireland photographer has told of the terrifying moment he was hit by tear gas after being caught up in trouble in Marseille ahead of Euro 2016.

John McVitty, who is in France to report on the tournament, was having a meal with his wife, Dawn, and their two friends in the city's Old Port area on Thursday night when violence broke out between England fans and local youths.

According to Mr McVitty, French police used tear gas and batons to bring the trouble under control.

"We were having a meal with our friends in one of the restaurants when it all kicked off," he said.

"All of a sudden, there were up to 15 police cars outside, then the riot police arrived carrying batons and wearing helmets. Within no time it had moved across the road towards us."

The Co Fermanagh man then watched as bottles and chairs were thrown through the air.

"People were being sick because of the tear gas," he said. "There was another man and he had his hands over his eyes. There was a takeaway nearby, and all we could do was watch as a man was beaten up."

More violence flared last night in Marseille when England fans clashed again with police.

Supporters who had been drinking for most of the day at the Queen Victoria pub in the Old Port district threw bottles at French riot police, who used tear gas to disperse them.

The start of the tournament, officially marked by the curtain-raiser between the hosts and Romania in Paris last night, has instead been overshadowed by images of brawls between rival supporters, violence and confrontations with local police.

In disturbing scenes last night, a group of fans shouting, "Have it" occupied a roadside brasserie called the Red Eagle which appeared to be on fire.

Footage showed some supporters lobbing bottles and chairs from the venue - some simply striking the canopy above them -while the fire blazed inside the building.

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