| 20.9°C Belfast

Priest assaulted during Orange Order march violence

A Catholic priest was assaulted by a rioter during violence on the streets of north Belfast on Friday night.

Holy Cross parish priest Fr Gary Donegan condemned those responsible for the disorder which flared during the Orange Order’s Tour of the North parade.

The Fermanagh-born priest was assaulted by a young rioter as he tried to restore peace to the streets around Ardoyne.

Stones and other missiles were thrown as the Orangemen passed the shop fronts on the Ardoyne Road. During the disturbances, blamed on dissident |republicans, Fr Donegan was pushed and jostled by a rioter.

The priest, who spent his 45th birthday attempting to defuse tensions in the area, said that the incident displayed a lack of respect for anyone in a position of authority.

Fr Donegan said: “Probably that young person doesn’t recognise my authority, or anybody

else’s for that matter. We don’t want this. The community is tired of it. For a young person to come up and be involved in what is commonly known as |recreational rioting is not acceptable.”

Sinn Fein MLA for the area, Gerry Kelly blamed people from “certain micro groups” for orchestrating the violence.

“Sadly, these individuals succeeded in enticing a small number of vulnerable young people into attacking the parade with stones,” he said.

North and West Belfast Parades and Cultural Forum spokesman Winston Irvine said that some marchers had been injured during the attack.

PSNI chief superintendent, Mark Hamilton said that a “small element” had been intent on creating disorder.

But he added: “We were pleased and encouraged by the orderly and respectful way in which the event was conducted and marshalled.”

Belfast Telegraph