Politicians unite to condemn Northern Ireland rioters

Police came under renewed attack from rioters as Northern Ireland's First Minister and Deputy First Minister condemned those behind the violence.

In Ardoyne, the scene of Monday night's major disturbances, a number of petrol bombs were thrown at police, who responded with water cannon.

There were no immediate reports of injuries last night and officers said they were working with community leaders to end the disturbances.

Police earlier in the evening worked successfully with community representatives in the nationalist Short Strand, Markets and lower Ormeau areas to tackle attempts by youths to spark violence.

Northern Ireland's First Minister and Deputy First Minister yesterday hit out at those behind the rioting and defended their political efforts to ease tensions over controversial parades.

Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) assistant chief constable Alistair Finlay earlier singled out First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness for criticism after violence surrounding July 12 Orange Order marches left 82 officers injured.

Chief Constable Matt Baggott blamed dissident republicans opposed to the peace process for fomenting tensions that reached a height in the Ardoyne area of north Belfast on Monday night where police came under sustained attack and eventually used baton rounds and water cannons to contain rioters.

Mr Baggott declined to single out individual politicians for criticism over the marches issue but called for a "big debate" on the way forward.

Mr Robinson and Mr McGuinness later issued a joint statement condemning the violence and highlighted their efforts to secure a lasting solution to tensions over controversial marches.

DUP leader Mr Robinson said: "I am disgusted at the outright thuggery and vandalism that has taken place over the course of the last 48 hours.

"There is no excuse and no place for violence in civilised society. Both the deputy First Minister and I have been, and will continue, to work for a resolution of the difficulties around parading."

Mr McGuinness said: "Our experience demonstrates that the way to deal with any disputes or contention is through dialogue and agreement.

"There are numerous examples that show this to be the way forward.

"We are currently consulting on legislation that aims to provide a workable framework for dealing with contentious parades."

But First Minister Mr Robinson added: "I am disappointed to hear some of the comments from ACC Finlay and look forward to meeting with the Chief Constable shortly to discuss the events of the last 48 hours and ACC Finlay's unhelpful and unacceptable remarks.

"We must keep our entire focus on defeating those who would seek through violence and destruction to drag us back."

While 82 officers were injured in riots over the past few days, a total of 55 officers were injured in Monday night's rioting alone.

On Sunday night three officers suffered pellet wounds during riots in Belfast when they were fired at by a man armed with a shotgun.

On Monday there were disturbances in a number of areas including parts of Belfast, in Lurgan in Co Armagh, and in Londonderry where a masked man armed with a handgun shot at a police vehicle, though officers escaped injury.

In Lurgan rioters stopped the Belfast to Dublin train and tried to set fire to it. The driver managed to restart the train and leave the scene before any of the 55 passengers on board were injured.

Meanwhile, the Chief Constable yesterday released dramatic footage captured from a police helicopter that showed how officers came under frenzied attack from rioters in Ardoyne.

It showed a line of riot police being repeatedly attacked by masked men armed with iron bars and wooden posts. Mobs were also shown launching sustained attacks on armoured police vehicles.

While police eventually fired baton rounds, Mr Baggott said the police images showed that his officers displayed great restraint.

In the most serious incident of the night a female police officer had a concrete block hurled on to her head. She remains in hospital where she is said to be stable.

Mr Baggott said that while exact figures were not yet available, the violence would cost millions of pounds.

He implicated dissident republicans in the riots, which he said included teenagers and children as young as eight.

The police chief branded the disturbances as a dangerous cocktail of "recreational rioting with a sinister edge".

Mr Baggott said: "The cost of policing last night in that small part of Northern Ireland is the equivalent of a ward in a hospital, it's the equivalent of a primary school, it's the equivalent of neighbourhood policing.

"And it is time to have that big debate about what is really important for the future in Northern Ireland."

Earlier ACC Finlay singled out Mr Robinson and Mr McGuinness for criticism and said they had been silent prior to July 12 and in the immediate aftermath of the Ardoyne violence.

"We didn't see joined-up, strategic leadership," he said.

Mr Baggott did not go as far as his colleague, but called for society to speak out with one voice against violence.

The vast majority of parades pass off peacefully on July 12, the height of the loyal orders' marching season.

But in a relatively small number of locations parades continue to cause tensions between rival communities.

DUP leader Mr Robinson and Sinn Fein's Mr McGuinness were central to negotiations at Hillsborough castle earlier this year that brokered deals on the devolution of policing powers and on creating new legislation on parades.

Last week the Orange Order rejected the draft proposals which would replace the government-appointed Parades Commission, with a new system to broker local solutions to parade stand-offs.

Leader of the nationalist SDLP Margaret Ritchie said rioters had caused "a massive trail of destruction", but she blamed the DUP/SF parade proposals for adding to instability.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living