Orange parade erupts in violence

Charles Begley
Sunday 30 June 2002 00:00 BST
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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

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A controversial Protestant Orange Order parade in west Belfast erupted in violence yesterday, resulting in police using water cannon to disperse nationalist rioters.

Republican anger was turned on police lines after loyalists marched through the Springfield Road area. Stones, bottles, bricks, fireworks and paint bombs were thrown at police by a 300-strong crowd of protesters, who whistled and heckled the Orangemen in a noisy counter-demonstration.

The incident followed overnight disturbances in the east of the city, during which two police officers were injured and a loyalist house was destroyed. Loyalist and Sinn Fein representatives blamed each other for the violence.

Last night local residents blamed police for not pulling out of the area quickly enough after the parade. They also criticised the decision to allow it through in the first place.

Sean Paul O'Hare, of the Springfield Residents' Action Group, said: "These disturbances were an indication of just how angry people are. They were angry at this decision to allow the march through with no route restriction, and feel the Parades Commission has put the community into a corner.

"We went to them with positive proposals and those were rejected."

An independent Unionist councillor, who had urged both communities to ensure that the march passed off peacefully, said the violence on the nationalist side was "regrettable". Frank McCoubrey said: "I'd like to pay tribute to the people and organisers of today's Orange Order parade for ensuring that it was conducted in a peaceful and dignified manner. I am sorry that I cannot say the same about whoever organised the protests on the nationalist side."

The Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams will hold talks in Dublin tomorrow with the Irish Prime Minister, Bertie Ahern, on the problems in the peace process. The talks will take place just days before Tony Blair and Mr Ahern travel to Northern Ireland for a meeting with pro-Good Friday Agreement parties.

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