Shots fired during Belfast rioting
13 July 2012, 12:10
Belfast - Gunshots were fired at police early on
Friday morning during rioting by Catholic youths in Belfast after a
small Protestant parade celebrating a 17th century military victory
passed their estate the previous day, but no officers were hit.
overnight violence was the culmination of a series of parades that
pro-British Protestants stage annually in the British-ruled province, a
tradition seen as provocative by Irish nationalists who want to be part
of a united Ireland.
Dozens of youths threw bricks, snooker balls
and petrol bombs at hundreds of riot police at the point where Catholic
and Protestant areas of the city meet. Police responded with water
cannon and plastic bullets.
At least 10 gunshots were fired at
police lines early on Friday morning, but no police officers were
injured, a police spokesperson said.
However, she said nine
officers had been injured during the overall rioting which saw a burning
car pushed toward a line of riot police. Six men were charged with
public order offences, she added.
a peace agreement was signed in 1998, violence between the province's
Catholics and Protestants - which has raged on and off for three decades
- has largely ended. However, much of Belfast remains divided along
The latest flare-up began shortly after a parade
of 15 members of the Protestant Orange Order walked in silence past a
row of shops in the nationalist Ardoyne area, flanked by riot police.
parade was smaller than usual because the authorities insisted marchers
pass the shops before 16:00, too early for most of those attending a
mass rally at the edge of the city.
Most of the 500 or so Orange
Order parades across the province, involving hundreds of thousands of
marchers, bandsmen and watching crowds, passed off peacefully.
Catholic youths also rioted and threw petrol bombs at police in
Londonderry after local Orange Order parades there. A double-decker bus
was hijacked and set on fire in Craigavon, police said.
between mostly Protestant loyalists who want Northern Ireland to remain
part of the UK and Irish nationalists, mainly Catholics, who want it to
be part of a united Ireland, tore the province apart during a
three-decade period known as the "Troubles".
A 1998 peace
agreement paved the way for a power-sharing government of loyalists and
nationalists. Violence has subsided, but police say the threat from
dissident groups opposed to the peace deal is higher than at any time
since it was signed.
The marchers were marking King William of
Orange's victory over the Roman Catholic King James at the Battle of the
Boyne in 1690, which helped to secure Protestant supremacy in Ireland.