Orange Order parades: 24 officers and teenage girl injured
Girl hit by car while one officer needed 12 stitches for bite wound in violent protests
Twenty-four police officers were hurt and a 16-year-old girl was taken to hospital after Orange Order parades turned violent in Belfast on Monday.
The teenage girl suffered non-life threatening injuries after a car mounted a pavement in Ardoyne. A man was arrested at the scene and remains in custody.
Among the injured was a police inspector who was dragged from the frontline in Woodvale and another police officer who received 12 stitches to a finger after being bitten in an assault.
The 16-year-old girl was believed extremely fortunate that her injuries were not much more serious after police had to turn the vehicle which struck her onto its side so they could access her.
The violence began when loyalists hurled missiles at PSNI officers after Orangemen were prevented from parading past the Ardoyne shops on their return from the main parade on Monday evening.
Police erected steel barriers on the Woodvale Road about 300 metres from the shops to prevent more than 3,000 Orangemen, loyalist bands, members and supporters parading on up the road towards them.
There was a stand-off between police and protesters, with demonstrators taunting and shouting at the PSNI officers when the parade arrived at the barriers shortly before 7.30pm.
The tensions were high and after eight minutes missiles started raining down on police and reporters covering the parade.
Some of the demonstrators sang the Sash and the Famine Song – “the Famine is over why don’t you go home” – as others pelted police with beer bottles, full cans, bolts and other missiles. Police quickly moved in with Land Rovers to strengthen the lines.
A police helicopter hovered overhead while dogs and two large water cannon trucks were placed on standby at the top of the Woodvale Road. There was a huge police presence at the scene, with many in full riot gear and bearing shields to protect them from the bottles and cans.
As well as the standoff on Woodvale Road there was also trouble at the top of Twaddell Avenue where loyalists threw heavy bricks at police lines. Missiles were also thrown in the direction of nationalists gathered at the shops. Police responded with water cannons and a number of officers suffered injuries.
Earlier, the morning feeder parade to the main Belfast parade, which was allowed by the Parades Commission, concluded peacefully.
Two republican protests were staged in the morning. The Crumlin and Ardoyne Residents’ Association (Cara), which supports Sinn Féin, unveiled a large banner stating “Resolution is Possible” as the parade went by.
The Greater Ardoyne Residents Coalition (Garc), which is viewed as being sympathetic to dissident republicanism, also protested at the shops.
Protesters at that demonstration, which was more heavily policed, carried posters with messages such as “March where you’re welcome”, “Treat our community with respect” and “No parades, no violence”.
One protester was arrested and charged with assaulting police and disorderly behaviour. He was released on bail and ordered to stay from further protests.