US expresses concern about parade-related violence in North
White House calls for calm and respect for the law
Armoured vehicles gather around a burnt out car on the shore road after the police came under attack from loyalists throwing petrol bombs on the fourth night of unrest after an Orange Parade was blocked from marching past the Nationalist Ardoyne area in North Belfast. Photograph: Cathal McNaughton/Reuters
US vice president Joe Biden has told Northern Ireland’s first minister Peter Robinson and deputy first minister Martin McGuinness that he is deeply concerned about parade-related violence and attacks on police.
The vice president told both men in telephone calls today that he supported calls for calm and respect for the rule of law, the White House said in a statement.
Last night marked the fourth consecutive night of violence in Belfast.
Mr Biden also spoke to the new chair of the all-party group, former US special envoy to Northern Ireland Richard Haass. The group will address sensitive issues such as parades, protests, flags, symbols and emblems.
“The vice president and the US government, along with the British and Irish governments, will stay in close touch with Dr Haass as he assists the political parties of Northern Ireland in the crucil work of healing the divisions of the past and building a truly shared future,” the vice president’s office said.
Tackling sensitive issues was “essential to creating a lasting peace and assuring the road to prosperity for all in Northern Ireland,” said the White House.
“It will require political courge, creativity and compromise on the part of all Northern Ireland’s political parties.”
Seventy-one police officers have been injured in four nights of rioting in Northern Ireland linked to the banning of a contentious Orange Order parade.
Police revealed the latest casualty toll as Assembly members prepared to reconvene at Stormont to debate the impact of the dispute.
Sixty rioters have been arrested since trouble first flared on Friday night when Orangemen were prevented from marching through the nationalist Ardoyne area of North Belfast at the conclusion of traditional Orange Order Twelfth of July commemorations.
“In the aftermath of four days of disorder and attacks on police, I would urge the Assembly to condemn all violence, unequivocally support the brave efforts of my colleagues and affirm that all protests must be both peaceful and lawful,” he said. “The PSNI is resolved to upholding the rule of law. Today is a day for calming words and a renewed commitment from the Assembly to finding political solutions. There are already too many injured police officers and young people facing prison sentences for anything else to be acceptable.”
In the first three nights of unrest, violence was largely focused on the loyalist Woodvale area close to the Ardoyne, with some disorder in the east of the city as well. There was violence in and around Woodvale again last night, with a blast bomb also thrown at officers from the Ardoyne, but trouble spread further.
In the Lower Newtownards Road area of East Belfast, at least six blast bombs, a large number of petrol bombs, masonry and other missiles were thrown at police. Loyalists and republicans were involved in the disorder.