Sectarian clashes flare in Belfast

2011-06-21 08:58

Belfast - Sectarian clashes erupted on Belfast's streets as masked Protestant rioters attacked Catholic homes on Monday, Northern Ireland authorities said.

More than 100 Protestant teens and young men bombarded Catholic homes with rocks, bricks and bottles. The street clashes occurred on a major sectarian fault line in east Belfast, pitting the Protestants of Newtownards Road against the Catholics of the Short Strand district.

Sporadic violence has been a regular feature of Northern Ireland's wider conflict since the late 1960s.

Catholic leaders said the violence was unprovoked, but Protestant leaders said the Protestants appeared to be retaliating for smaller-scale attacks by Catholics youths the previous night.

Most of the attackers wore hoods or scarves over their faces to make it harder for police using video cameras to identify them.

Peace lines

Riot police kept the two sides apart and came under fire from both directions. One police armoured vehicle was set on fire by a Molotov cocktail, but it wasn't clear which side threw it.

The Short Strand-Newtownards Road flashpoint is just one of more than 30 parts of Belfast where high barricades, known as peace lines, separate Irish Catholic and British Protestant turf.

Such peace lines have grown in number and size despite the success of Northern Ireland's 1998 peace accord, which inspired a unified Catholic-Protestant government, the disarmament of the Irish Republican Army, and greater Catholic support for law and order.

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

One of the first contentious parades of the Orange marching season turned violent on Friday when police blocked Orangemen from parading through part of Ardoyne, a militant Catholic district that often seeks to lash out at passing Protestant parades. Four police officers reported minor injuries.

  • McDaNife - 2011-06-21 09:25

    Man i thought this kind of thing was over.

      Matt - 2011-06-21 12:25

      Yeah, it had been quiet for ages - not impressed. This is not Christianity in action - we're supposed to love our neighbour, love our enemies, and these idiots clearly ignored that.

      iareknersis - 2011-06-21 12:41

      @Matt, it flares up every year round about this time, got to agree with you they are just a bunch of idiots

  • Cornix - 2011-06-21 09:36

    Why is Ireland so prone to this kind of thing?

      iareknersis - 2011-06-21 09:50

      Its not prone to this kind of thing. Its just a bunch of bored thugs who have got nothing better to do

      Cornix - 2011-06-21 10:00

      @iareknersis - Are you Irish?

      Lee - 2011-06-21 10:31

      Marching season and it's been prone to this every year.

  • iareknersis - 2011-06-21 10:09

    @Cornix, I am not Irish, I am a South African living in Ireland

      Lee - 2011-06-21 10:30

      Then you'll know the history and it's Religion. They can't stand each other.

  • daaivark - 2011-06-21 10:10

    And here we go again!

  • iareknersis - 2011-06-21 10:44

    @Lee,Yes it is marching season which is starting again now in July, and I must say that it is only a small group of them who still cant stand each other. I live in the Republic of Ireland and yes every now and again there is probs with it down here but the main problems happen up north.

      Lee - 2011-06-21 11:37

      It will get worse then finish for another year. It's been about 15yrs since i stood with a pathetic plastic shield getting everything thrown at me. The youth just continue what the elders did, they just don't know why any more.

      Matt - 2011-06-21 12:38

      Didn't they ban the Orange March a couple of years ago? I'm sure they did? BTW as a "Protestant" I really hope it was banned, it's stupid, provocative and most definitely not a Christian act.

      iareknersis - 2011-06-21 12:45

      @Matt, only certain routes of the marches were banned. I can tell you from seeing it for myself that large areas surrounding Belfast are full of loyalist flags and banners this time of the year and not to mention the huge bonfire sites. The orange order are protestant and loyal to the queen and hold their marches and bonfires on or around the 12th July every year.

  • CapeTownJunk - 2011-06-21 10:59

    I prefer the headline & story on newsthump dot com - "Belfast witnesses outbreak of Christianity".

      iareknersis - 2011-06-21 11:04

      LMAO. funny article

  • wmutahi - 2011-06-21 13:08

    What the hell?

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