Orange Order parades: All sides condemn ‘disgraceful’ violence
First Minister of NI says it is vital that those involved in riots are ‘held accountable’
Police line up in front of Loyalist protesters on the Crumlin Road in Belfast. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA.
Violence in north Belfast during Orange Order parades has been condemned on all sides in Northern Ireland.
Twenty-four police officers were hurt and a 16-year-old girl was taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries after a car mounted a pavement in Ardoyne during violent protests.
Northern Ireland’s First and Deputy First Ministers have both condemned the riots.
First Minister Peter Robinson said it was “vital that those involved in such riotous activity” were “held accountable. They do a massive disservice to the wider cause they claim to support”.
In tweets, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness condemned loyalists responsible for the attacks on police and called on Unionist political leaders to act on the matter.
He also said he “unreservedly condemned those responsible” for the attack at Greysteel Co Derry on Orangemen returning to the Republic from a parade at Coleraine. Stones were thrown at a bus carrying the Orangemen.
Earlier Northern Ireland secretary of state Theresa Villiers said: “I condemn these disgraceful attacks on the police. Those responsible do nothing to further the cause they claim to promote.
“They damage Northern Ireland and wreck a day which should be about respectful celebration of cultural tradition. My thoughts are with all those injured.”
North Belfast DUP, MP Nigel Dodds said there was a “severe problem in relation to community relations and respect for law and order”.
He added that “the way forward is to recognise the failures of the past cannot be repeated and a new way forward for parading and protesting is badly needed.”
Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly said most people were “disappointed and angry” at the scenes of violence in north Belfast following Monday’s parades in the city. This was so particularly as the evening prior to this year’s parade had been “the calmest for 15 years,” he said.
He called on all political representatives right across the board to work for calm.
The Orange Order also condemned those engaging in violence and appealed for calm in north Belfast.
“Those involved in violence should desist. It is not only counterproductive but also plain wrong. Such actions are only strengthening the hand of those who wish to further curtail our parades,” a spokesman said.
The Order’s Grand Lodge also condemned those who stoned a bus taking Orangemen back to the Republic through Greysteel in Derry on Monday evening. They had been at a parade in Coleraine.
Alliance Party justice spokesperson Stewart Dickson MLA said he was “disappointed and disgusted” by the violence and called on everyone to respond to the Orange Order’s appeal to “stand down.”
He was “appalled at what has unfolded” and suggested the use of bolts and other missiles showed “there was premeditated intent to cause trouble.”
He appealed to all with political and community influence “to work together to restore peace to our streets.”
The UK’s Shadow Secretary for Northern Ireland Ivan Lewis MP described Monday night’s scenes as “a step backwards for stability in Northern Ireland” and that “the small minority determined to return to the bad old days must not be allowed prosper.”
Monday night’s events “underline the importance of marginalising the extremists and pressing ahead with implementation of the (Belfast) agreement,” he said.
Chairman of the Police Confederation of Northern Ireland Mark Linsday condemned the violence as “mindless” and said “these rioters had obviously come prepared to cause disorder.” He commended the police for their “patience and professionalism.”
The PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton, who was at Ardoyne On Monday morning, warned that “if people break the law they will be brought before the courts”.