Wednesday 13 December 2017

Trouble expected in North for tomorrow’s 12th July parades

Deric Henderson

Police are preparing to mount a major security operation for tomorrow's big Twelfth of July parades in Northern Ireland amid fears of new trouble on the streets in the aftermath of weekend disturbances in loyalist areas of east Antrim.

Thousands of bandsmen and members of the Orange Order will be on the marches.

Churchmen and senior politicians on all sides, including First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuiness, have appealed for calm.

Alistair Finlay, Assistant Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, said today: "Violence does not have to be inevitable.

"People need to take responsibility to make sure everyone stays safe and secure in this tense period."

Police claimed there was a degree of co-ordination involved in the trouble which erupted late on Saturday night and early yesterday morning in parts of Ballyclare, Carrickfergus and Newtownabbey.

Cars were hijacked and set alight and five officers were injured when one of their Land Rovers was rammed with a bus.

It followed the removal by police of loyalist flags near a Catholic Church in Ballyclare.

The biggest security operation tomorrow will be in north Belfast where Orangemen are due to march past the flashpoint republican Ardoyne district and nationalists are planning a protest demonstration.

There has been serious disorder in the area in previous years because of opposition to Orange parades.

Mr Finlay said: "Those people with influence need to use it to keep areas calm and for heads to stay cool and to keep Northern Ireland out of the news headlines over the next few days.

"Violence does not have to be inevitable. Flags can be a difficult and emotional issue, but there is no excuse for what happened."

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