Eight officers injured amid Belfast Orange parade violence

Eight police officers in Northern Ireland injured as Orange Order parade in northern Belfast turns violent

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Marchers in the annual Orange Order parade in Belfast, Northern Ireland, threw bottles and bricks at police officers on Monday, causing injuries, while police used a water cannons to disperse the march.

The July 12 march of the Loyal Orange Institution, is traditionally held to celebrate Prince William of Orange’s victory against King James II at the Battle of Boyne in 1690.

The Loyal Orange Institution is a Protestant and unionist organisation in Northern Ireland which was founded in 1795 during the Protestant-Catholic sectarian conflict and is associated with loyalist paramilitary groups. The institution campaigned against the independence of Scotland in 2014.

Orange parades have been criticised by Catholics, Irish nationalists, and some members of the political left, with tensions spilling over into violence in nationalist neighbourhoods.

The Police Federation announced on Monday that the July 12 parade, which was held on July 13 this year, caused injury to eight police officers.

Police officers banned the unionist marchers this year from marching towards the nationalist Ardoyne neighbourhood of Belfast in order to prevent violence.

Meanwhile, a driver lost control of his car and drove it into the marchers, hitting a 16-year-old girl. Although the man was arrested right after the incident, the parade turned violent as of that moment.

Marchers started to throw rocks, metal bolts and bottles toward police officers, and the police used two water cannons to disperse the march.

First Minister of Northern Ireland Peter Robinson condemned the violent events saying "The PSNI [Police Service of Northern Ireland] is tasked with upholding the rule of law and it is vital that those involved in such riotous activity cease and are held accountable. They do a massive disservice to the wider cause they claim to support."

"My thoughts and prayers are with all those who have been injured whilst serving the public, as well as the young girl who has been injured in a vehicle collision," Robinson added.

Mentioning the police attacks, Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers said that "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."

A Grand Orange Lodge spokesman criticised the violent scenes saying "Those involved in violence should desist."

"It is not only counter-productive but also plain wrong. Such actions are only strengthening the hand of those who wish to further curtail our parades. We call on anyone engaged in illegal behaviour to stop immediately," the spokesman added, mentioning that the marches should be peaceful.

Although last year’s parade was peaceful, 800 police were injured in 2013 when the march turned into a street battle.

Belfast’s unionist and nationalist neighbourhoods have been separated by “peace walls” since 1998 in order to prevent any kind of public turmoil.

TRTWorld and agencies