Photographer injured in Belfast riots

2011-06-22 13:01

Belfast - A British news photographer was shot in the leg as hundreds of masked youths hurled bricks, bottles and gasoline bombs during a second night of sectarian violence at a Catholic-Protestant flashpoint in Belfast.

The Press Association agency said on Wednesday that the photographer suffered a leg injury and was in stable condition at Royal Victoria Hospital. The agency did not release the name of the photographer.

Other journalists on the scene said a gunman had shot at photographers covering Tuesday's night's violence.

About 700 people gathered on the street in the Short Strand, a small Catholic community in a predominantly Protestant area of east Belfast.

Masked and hooded youths threw bricks, bottles, fireworks and other missiles at each other, and at armoured police vehicles. Police fired plastic bullets at the marauding youths.

Sectarian tensions typically flare in the build-up to July 12, a divisive holiday when tens of thousands of Protestants from the Orange Order brotherhood march across Northern Ireland.

Violence unprovoked

This year's violence is among the most intense in years, but confined to a small and historically tense area of Belfast.

Police said the violence started on Monday when masked members of the Ulster Volunteer Force - a paramilitary Protestant group which claims to have disarmed - attacked Catholic homes with bricks, fireworks and smoke bombs.

Catholic leaders said the violence was unprovoked, but Protestant leaders said the mob appeared to be retaliating for smaller-scale attacks by Short Strand youths on Protestant homes.

The area affected by the rioting is one of more than 30 parts of Belfast where high barricades separate Irish Catholic and British Protestant turf. The barricades, called "peace lines" locally, have grown in number and size, despite the success of Northern Ireland's 1998 peace accord.

Northern Ireland's Protestant First Minister, Peter Robinson, and his Catholic deputy, Martin McGuinness, condemned the violence.

"A small minority of individuals are clearly determined to destabilise our communities," McGuinness said. "They will not be allowed to drag us back to the past."

  • S Bouttell - 2011-06-22 13:33

    The Irish (Northern) are probably on a par with South Africans for their ability to hate. It's like "we" are born into it, and then are taught it, through folklore & sad songs. "We" are both unwilling to let the past stay dead. Everyone is calm for a while and then some dip sings "danny boy" or "kill the farmer" and the crap starts all over again. How sad "we" are.

      Rude - 2011-06-22 16:39

      @ S Bouttell Generalizing between racial and sectarian violence and their causes is a very dumb thing to do. As a White South-African born in the 1980's, I have never been "taught" to hate by any person or through any media. Teaching implies a student willing to learn the subject matter, I've never allowed myself to be taught by fear mongers or racists. Every person on this planet has the same potential to hate another human being. Stop blaming the past for the present violence. The criminal is responsible for their own acts and should be justly punished according to the crime committed and no racial hate song is going to "make" someone kill another person. Your statement sounds too much like an excuse to me, and I believe we have had enough of those from our elected government officials and fellow citizens alike. PS: South Africans should stop thinking up problems and start building solutions. Preferably ones that don't require empty promises and never ending delivery deadlines. I don't care whether you were previously "disadvantaged" as a black person or currently "disadvantaged" as a white person. Stop whining about what you never had and start working and educating yourself to where you want to be. Many others have done so, sans the bitching and moaning. If you feel you can only do that in the UK, OZ or NZ then by all means do so. Otherwise keep your doom and gloom comments to yourself, the rest of us have a future to build.

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