Ireland sees red as nationalists react in fury to Orange marches
POLICE and Orangemen came under attack last night as a controversial Twelfth of July parade was escorted through a notorious flashpoint in Belfast.
Heavily-armed riot police flanked the Orange lodge members as they made their way past the Ardoyne shops in the north of the city.
Petrol bombs, bricks, bottles and other missiles were thrown by nationalists, who were angry that the annual march was allowed to take a route past their area.
Police fired baton rounds and deployed a water cannon in an effort to subdue the rioters.
Earlier, about 60 demonstrators who had blocked the road in a sit-down protest were forcibly removed by police officers in body armour.
As the incident unfolded, a large crowd of loyalists gathered further up the road in a predominantly unionist neighbourhood to await the Orangemen, who were returning from the main Belfast Twelfth commemoration.
The disturbances came after three police officers were shot during another bout of rioting in the city on Sunday night. The two men and one woman were blasted with a shotgun fired by a masked man, who emerged from a crowd of nationalists who attacked the police as traditional Protestant 11th Night celebrations took place.
Another 24 police officers sustained injuries in that and a further separate riot in Belfast last night. Police said none of the injuries was life-threatening.
Last night's clashes at the Ardoyne were the most serious during a day marked by sporadic violence across Northern Ireland.
In south Belfast, police were attacked by petrol bombers as an Orange march passed another traditional flashpoint at the Ormeau bridge.
Elsewhere in the city, a hijacked bus containing a suspicious device was abandoned outside Woodburn police station. It was later declared an elaborate hoax. A car was later hijacked in the Oldpark Road area of north Belfast and found abandoned on nearby Alliance Avenue.
Police said a police officer was taken to hospital after she was struck by a missile in the disturbances.
Other officers were also injured in the disorder. A blast bomb was among the missiles that had been thrown at them.
PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Alistair Finlay said the violent scenes in Belfast over the last two nights were unacceptable.
He said long-term solutions must be found to ease tensions and reduce trouble around the parading season.
"The past 24 hours has been a very challenging time for policing in Northern Ireland," he said.
There was also trouble away from Belfast during a day that saw thousands of Orangemen attend events to mark the victory of Protestant King William of Orange over the army of Catholic King James II at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.
In Lurgan, Co Armagh, youths tried to set fire to a Belfast-Dublin train as it stopped at a level crossing.
Police also came under attack from petrol bombers in the town.
Meanwhile, in Armagh city a vehicle was reportedly set on fire and a four-year-old boy was injured when he was hit on the head with a bottle thrown by youths returning from a Twelfth of July commemoration in Portrush.The youngster's injuries are not understood to be serious.x
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