Police under fire in Belfast riots

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The Independent Online

Fresh rioting erupted in north Belfast yesterday when gangs of nationalists and loyalists clashed. Petrol bombs were thrown at police when they attempted to break up the fighting between the two groups, each around 100-strong. A number of people were injured.

The violence followed rioting in the Whitewell area of north Belfast on Friday, which left several police officers injured. Elsewhere in north Belfast, the living room of a house was damaged when a petrol bomb was thrown through a window. A Catholic man and woman in the room at the time escaped unhurt.

In a separate development, David Trimble, the First Minister, came under further pressure to deliver further IRA concessions on decommissioning.

Meanwhile, depite the disturbances, last night saw another symbolic step in the peace process. A 100-year-old ban on British soldiers and Northern Ireland policemen playing Irish football and hurling was scrapped. The Gaelic Athletics Association (GAA) abandoned its ban at a special congress in Dublin in exchange for the recent reform of the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

The GAA, which controls all Gaelic football and hurling clubs in the Republic and the UK, introduced its ban on members of the British security forces and the RUC from membership as an act of defiance against British rule in Ireland. The RUC was officially renamed the Peace Service of Northern Ireland earlier this month under the Patten proposals and the Good Friday Peace Accord.

Meanwhile, anti-terrorist police in London continued to question six Real IRA suspects arrested on Thursday in connection with six explosions. Magistrates have allowed the police to hold the men until Tuesday.

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