Shots fired during Belfast rioting

2012-07-13 11:00

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.

The 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.

Petrol bombs

Since 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 religious lines.

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.

The 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.

However, 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.

Fighting 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.

  • E=MC2 - 2012-07-13 11:32

    "Gunshots were fired"? not "Shots were fired" or "Gunshots were heard"? Can a gunshot be fired?

  • JamesBothaThisBookWillChangeYourLife - 2012-07-13 11:36

    This is the reason why I hate religion, utterly disgrace, I have no words for these Christians, you are a shame to the world, and you follow a religion. You are a shame and insulting to Jesus, who presents love... How can you say you follow Jesus and you have no love for your neighbour? This is fake Christians. Repent in the Name of JESUS. Stop following a religion in the NAME OF JESUS. Follow Jesus instead, He is the true light to the world, not churches or religions.

  • allcoveredinNinjas - 2012-07-13 12:58

    I'm sure it has nothing to do with religion and is politically driven..... please .

  • warwick.railton.7 - 2012-07-13 13:49

    James, you do not know your basic Irish History. In Northern Ireland, Protestants are considered of English Heritage and the Minority Catholics as 'true' Irish. The fight was to get the Brits/ English colonizers outta Ireland and the war line was drawn over Religion as who was who – they all look the same, so there had to be a way of knowing your enemy. It’s an old hate and won’t go away soon. This is not / or was a religious war, but a political one.

      allcoveredinNinjas - 2012-07-13 15:43

      I didn't know you could walk down the road and spot the difference between a catholic and a protestant .

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