Belfast protest: Officer who was bitten receives 12 stitches in worst clash of marching season

A teenage girl was also reportedly injured in the violent clash

Rose Troup Buchanan
Tuesday 14 July 2015 12:08 BST
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An officer falls to the ground after being struck by a object from a protester
An officer falls to the ground after being struck by a object from a protester (PA)

A Northern Irish policeman received 12 stiches after he was reportedly bitten by a protester as Ulster Loyalists clashed with riot police in Belfast on Monday night.

The officer, who has not been identified, was one of 24 Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) injured – along with a teenage girl – after a parade celebrating the 325TH anniversary of a famous Protestant victory over an English Catholic monarch turned violent.

Tempers flared at around 7.30pm after the peaceful march of up to 3,000 supporters was followed by a small number who confronted police officers at a metal crowd barrier on Woodvale Road and Crumlin Road, Belfast.

PSNI officers and barricades were in position following a ban on the Orangemen – a protestant fraternal organisation who hold a parade on July 12 annually – marching down Crumlin Road separating Unionist and nationalist communities.

Dissident Republicans have staged attacks in this area in the past.

Only minutes after the parade reached the barriers, bottles and other missiles started hailing down on officers and reporters covering the march.

Meanwhile, the standoff at Woodvale Road officers descended into a fracas after marchers lobbed bricks at officers.

A Police Service for Northern Ireland press officer told The Independent: “Although we cannot go into details there were number of different injuries sustained by officers.”

He added that “a number” were treated in hospital but “a few remained on duty at the scene.”

PSNI officers used water cannons and three rubber bullet rounds on the crowd.

The two incidents are the most serious violent confrontation in a previously peaceful ‘marching season’ in Northern Ireland.

The teenage girl, who has not been identified, was rescued by officers after it is believed a car struck her during the march. Officers lifted the vehicle off her before she was taken to a nearby hospital. Her injuries are not believed to be life threatening.

The Police Federation has condemned the attacks as “mindless, deplorable and shameful,” as an official spokesperson for the Orange Order also criticised the violent actions of some.

As of yesterday, a police presence remained in the area, with the PSNI’s official Twitter account appealing for calm as the situation “remains tense”.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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