Belfast riots: Petrol bombs and bricks hurled at police as disorder continues for second night

400 extra police drafted in following violence as MP Nigel Dodds is hit by brick

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The Independent Online

Police in Belfast came under attack from petrol bombs and other missiles as disorder from loyalist rioters continued for a second night.

On Saturday night police responded by firing baton rounds and deploying water cannons, with officers describing the unrest as "sporadic".

The worst violence was witnessed on Friday, bottles and other missiles were thrown at police lines on the Woodvale Road and Newtownards Road area of east Belfast and 32 police officers were injured. Democratic Unionist MP Nigel Dodds was hit on the head by a brick in clashes on Friday, as demonstrating loyalists clashed with police in scenes described by Northern Ireland’s Chief Constable Matt Baggott as “shameful and disgraceful”.

Four hundred extra police officers have been disposed in Northern Ireland after Friday night's rioting. Eyewitnesses said the rioters hurled missiles at police ranks, which already included around 600 from the rest of the UK, throwing anything from sticks and drain pipes to fireworks.

Some were reported to have armed themselves with swords, and riot police initially responded with plastic bullets and water cannons.

Reinforcements arrived on Saturday, with the disorder expected to continue as Order members continue to commemorate the victory of William of Orange at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.

The Order originally called for its members to demonstrate after a section of the traditional parade in Belfast, along a contested stretch of road, was banned by the Parades Commission. The call was withdrawn by senior Orangemen late last night, and they asked for calm after violence broke out following an otherwise peaceful Twelfth of July holiday.

Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Chief Constable Baggott said: “The scenes were both shameful and disgraceful.

”I cannot praise highly enough this morning the courage, the professionalism and the restraint of my PSNI colleagues, and those from England, Wales and Scotland who joined us in making sure the rule of law was upheld.“

Northern Ireland Secretary of State Theresa Villiers said there was no justification for the trouble, saying: ”I utterly condemn the rioting that took place in Belfast last night. It is right that the Orange Order has suspended its protests. I would now appeal to the Order to call them off completely.”

Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly blamed the violence on the Orange Order and unionist politicians.

“Speech after speech at the various (Orange) demonstrations were clearly designed to stir up sectarian tension and have alongside the Orange Order's failure to abide by Parades Commission determinations led directly to the violence in Belfast,” he said.

“No amount of hand wringing or denial in the coming days from the Orange Order and unionist politicians can alter that reality.”