Friday 19 January 2018

Unionist MP Dodds struck by brick as Orange marches turn violent

Lesley-Anne McKeown

Democratic Unionist Party MP Nigel Dodds has been struck in the head by a brick after sectarian tensions in North Belfast spilled into violence.

Rioting loyalists, some wielding swords, attacked police in a major outbreak of violence in the area last night. Baton rounds were fired and water cannon used by officers.

A DUP spokesman said Mr Dodds had been taken to the emergency department in a nearby hospital, believed to be unconscious.

The DUP spokesman said: "It appears (Mr Dodds) was in and around the police lines and was talking to the police."

Earlier four police officers have been injured after sectarian tension spilled over into violence.

Trouble erupted close to a North Belfast flashpoint as the Orange Order protested against the decision to ban a contentious July 12 parade past an interface. Police were pelted with bits of masonry, bottles and other missiles during clashes with loyalists.

Loyalist bandsmen, many highly intoxicated, played sectarian tunes at police lines while bricks and bottles were thrown

The Parades Commission – the adjudicating body set up after the Good Friday Agreement – had banned marchers from a 300-metre stretch of the Crumlin Road past the nationalist Ardoyne area.

Trouble also broke out on the Newtownards Road in east Belfast. Bricks and bottles were thrown in both areas.

Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly blamed the violence on the Orange Order. "Speech after speech at the various (Orange) demonstrations were clearly designed to stir up sectarian tension," he said.

Irish Independent

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