Police pelted with bricks and bottles in violent scenes following Orange Order parade
Published 13/07/2015 | 21:12
Police have been pelted with bricks, bolts, bottles and pieces of masonry after violence flared following an Orange Order parade in Belfast.
The disturbances broke out at a volatile community interface in the north of the city as police prevented loyalists marching from the unionist Woodvale area toward the nationalist Ardoyne.
Riot squad officers from the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) bore the brunt of loyalist anger when they blocked access to the contested stretch of the Crumlin Road.
Within minutes of the parade reaching the police lines, empty bottles, bricks and metal bolts rained down on police. At one point a number of loyalists broke through police lines and started dancing on the bonnets of PSNI armoured land rovers.
Loyalist bandsmen played the sectarian Famine Song, which is played to the same tune as the Beach Boys' Sloop John B, but with anti-Catholic lyrics. They also played well-known loyalist tune The Sash.
Women and children mixed among the bandsmen and Orange Orange members in the massed crowd barracking the police lines.
The violence followed a day of largely peaceful Twelfth of July holiday loyal order parades across Northern Ireland - the highlight of the loyalist marching season.
A massive security operation had been mounted at the Woodvale/Ardoyne sectarian interface, where dissident republicans have gathered to attack police in the past.
The Government-appointed Parades Commission - set up to rule on contentious marches - had issued a determination barring Orangemen from a section of the Crumlin Road.
Last year there was no rioting but, in 2013 - when restrictions were first imposed on the Orange parade - mass violence erupted in the unionist Woodvale area.
Since then, loyalists have manned a protest camp and staged nightly parades at Woodvale, requiring a policing operation costing millions.
In previous years republicans rioted when the parade was allowed to pass up the road on the way back from Belfast's main Twelfth commemoration.
Ahead of the Twelfth senior police commanders expressed concern that Orange Order and other loyalist groups had withdrawn marshals who helped keep the peace last year.
Unlike last year, there was not a joint call from a broad range of unionist and loyalist political parties, including two with links to paramilitary groups, for the Twelfth to pass off peacefully and lawfully.
However, there were calls for calm from individual political representatives and leaders of the Orange institution.
On the other side of the police lines, a serious incident occurred when a young girl was reportedly struck by a car as republicans gathered at a row of shops on the edge of the Ardoyne.
There were chaotic scenes as police reportedly lifted the car off the injured girl.
On the unionist side of the lines, a tense stand off continues, with missiles thrown sporadically.
Police said the driver of the vehicle has been arrested. The girl struck is understood to be around 16-years-old.
PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin said: "I would appeal for calm and ask that space be given to the medics attending the scene. An investigation into the circumstances is now under way."