Police vow 'significant arrests' following Belfast officer attacks after Orange Order march

 

Police chiefs today pledged to make “significant” arrests after officers were attacked with petrol bombs in an outbreak of street violence in the flashpoint Ardoyne area of north Belfast.

As the Parades Commission defended the decisions to allow two rival loyalist and republican marches to take place just hours apart in the same area, Chief Constable Matt Baggott said many of those involved in the disturbances will face the courts.

He said: "There was no excuse for the rioting or the violence, even though it was contained in a relatively small area of Northern Ireland."

Ten PSNI officers were injured. Dissident republicans, opposed to the Sinn Fein peace process strategy of Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness were among the crowds attacking the police.

Four men were arrested, but video footage will be examined to identify others involved in the trouble.

It started after hundreds of anti-riot police moved in to keep the factions apart as Orangemen returned home to a neighbouring area following a big Orange Order demonstration in the city - one of several across Northern Ireland on Thursday marking the anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne.

Although it lasted for several hours, the violence at Ardoyne, a Protestant/Catholic flashpoint, was not on the same scale as in previous years. But officers were on the receiving end of some vicious attacks. Three blast bombs were thrown and up to 10 shots were fired by a gunman. Three cars were hijacked.

Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr said: "It's three days of annual madness where everybody thinks the police are legitimate targets."

All sides, including the Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson, hit out at the ruling by the Parades Commission to allow the two parades to take place within such a short period of time and in such a highly charged atmosphere.

But the chairman Peter Osborne insisted the decisions were right in the circumstances. And he challenged the politicians to take responsibility to adjudicate on contentious marches.

Mr Osborne said: "It is complete and utter nonsense to blame the Parades Commission for the violence last night. There has been violence in this location for many, many years now."

He added: "It is time for politicians to take ownership of contentious parades - that's the way forward."

The Commission chairman was backed by the Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson.

He said: "The Parades Commission was lawfully constituted by Parliament in 1998 in order to take decisions over parades out of the hands of the police and politicians.

"Should local politicians agree to alternative arrangements, and take responsibility for parading as was envisaged in the 2010 Hillsborough Castle Agreement, the Government will support them.

"In the meantime we shall stand by the independent Parades Commission as the sole legal authority in Northern Ireland to make determinations on parading."

PA

News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible