Extra police will be deployed in Northern Ireland this weekend to deal with a number of potentially contentious parades involving both loyalists and republicans.
The parades in Belfast and Co Tyrone come following a week when the political temperature has been raised by a number of incidents which resulted in police officers and others being injured.
Last night police responded with plastic bullets and water canon when they were pelted by loyalist protesters with bricks and other missiles leaving four officers hurt badly enough to need hospital treatment.
On Thursday a teenage boy and girl were stabbed at a bonfire in north Belfast. The boy’s condition in hospital was last night described as “serious but stable”.
Eight police were injured around another bonfire. In one incident at 3am yesterday officers were attacked by a man with a sword.
A Belfast journalist who attended a bonfire in the republican Falls Road area tweeted: “Just got attacked with bottles by a bunch of drunken rabble at the Divis bonfire site [in north-west Belfast], tourists looking on shocked.”
In the Co Tyrone village of Castlederg Sinn Fein has abandoned plans to protest against a loyalist march today. But republicans are to go ahead with their own parade tomorrow despite objections from unionists that it will raise tensions.
Also this week, Belfast’s Lord Mayor Mairtin O Muilleoir and nine police officers required treatment for cuts and bruises after being jostled by loyalists at the opening of a new sports facility.