26 police injured in parade protests

10.08.2013 04:38

Police have said 26 officers were
injured during violence in Belfast city
centre on Friday night linked to a
republican parade.
Loyalist protesters prevented the parade
from passing along Royal Avenue.
Police said they came under heavy and
sustained attack by crowds "intent on
creating disorder".
Five of the injured officers needed
hospital treatment. Police fired 20 plastic
baton rounds and used water cannon as
well as dogs.
Police said they had reports that two
members of the public had been injured.
Crowds have now dispersed and the
streets appear to be quiet.
Loyalist protesters attacked the police
with bricks and bottles as they waited for
the republican parade to arrive.
The protesters blocked Royal Avenue to
prevent the republican parade getting
A number of parked vehicles were also
set on fire in the North Street area. A
number of shops were damaged as well
as at least one bar.
Some loyalists accused the police of
being heavy-handed.
A car on fire in Belfast city centre during
the disturbances
However, PSNI Assistant Chief Constable
George Hamilton said: "Whilst facilitating
the Parades Commission determination
for tonight's parade and associated
protests, police have come under heavy
and sustained attack by crowds intent on
creating disorder.
"As Northern Ireland moves ahead, the
effect of tonight's violence has the
potential to damage the local economy
and the reputation of Belfast as a tourist
The parade and the protesters later
confronted each other about 100 metres
apart in north Belfast.
What police have described as serious
disorder took place in the Carrickhill,
Peter's Hill and Millfield areas close to
the city centre.
The parade then passed into west Belfast
after protesters were pushed back
towards the Shankill area.
Police put in place a major operation
ahead of the parade, involving hundreds
of officers and dozens of vehicles.
The march, which started in north
Belfast, marked the introduction of
internment in 1971.
The DUP's Nelson McCausland said the
republican parade had been designed to
provoke a loyalist reaction.
"We warned the secretary of state, the
PSNI and the Parades Commission that
this would happen but they ignored our
warnings," he said.
"They misjudged the situation and the
image of Belfast has suffered badly. That
is particularly frustrating because what
happened was entirely avoidable."
The Ulster Unionist Party said its East
Belfast assembly member Michael
Copeland had made a complaint to
police that he had been assaulted by an
The aftermath of the violence on Royal
Mr Copeland told the BBC: "There was
an elderly woman, I would say she was
75, standing in front of me with her back
to the police, she was being repeatedly
pushed by shields. When I stepped
forward to intervene I was kicked by a
police officer.
"I have a very old injury which means I
walk with a very pronounced limp and I
was kicked repeatedly on that leg and
stamped on that foot."
Mr Copeland said his wife and daughter
were also struck by batons. The MLA said
he went straight to Strandtown Police
Station to make a complaint.
The police have said they are aware of
the allegation and have referred the
incident to the Police Ombudsman.
The Parades Commission had given
permission for six loyalist protests
against the parade.