LOYALIST rioters have attacked police for a third successive night in Belfast.
Trouble again flared in the Woodvale Road area in the north of the city as the fall out from a decision to ban a controversial Orange Order parade passing through the nearby republican Ardoyne area continued.
Hundreds of loyalists were involved in a tense stand off with riot police before violence erupted yesterday evening.
Petrol bombs and a range of other missiles were thrown at officers, who responded by firing baton rounds.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said one officer had been injured in the initial clashes.
On Saturday night, seven police officers were injured at Woodvale.
Those police casualties came after 32 officers were injured on Friday night and MP for North Belfast Nigel Dodds was taken to hospital after being struck by a missile thrown by a rioter. He was discharged on Saturday morning.
Around 35 arrests have been made since Friday though police expect to make many more after analysing video footage of the disorder.
A special sitting of Belfast Magistrates’ Court was held yesterday with contingencies in place to keep courts open if the trouble continues.
Earlier, Stormont’s Justice Minister David Ford had warned of the consequences of getting involved in the violence.
“To young people in particular I would say this: ‘Do you want to leave home today with a clean record and by tonight have a criminal record, which could have consequences which will stay with you for the rest of your life?’,” he said.
“My message is clear; do not get involved in rioting on our streets, but if you choose to do so then be prepared to face the courts within hours.”
None of the officers hurt on Saturday night was seriously injured and all remained on duty.
While Friday’s violence spread from the Woodvale Road to other parts of Belfast, in particular the Newtownards Road area in the east, Saturday’s trouble was confined to the north of the city.
Last night police said there has also been some public disorder in Newtownabbey on the outskirts of north Belfast.
Trouble first broke out on Friday as police attempted to enforce a decision banning Orangemen from passing the Ardoyne on the Crumlin Road on their way back from traditional Twelfth of July commemorations.
More than 600 mutual aid officers from England, Scotland and Wales were already in the region supporting the PSNI operation as tensions surrounding the Twelfth spiralled into disorder.
The Orange Order had originally called for protests against the Ardoyne determination of the Parades Commission adjudication body but, in the wake of Friday’s violence, senior Orangemen called for protest action to be suspended.
PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott has condemned those responsible for the trouble and also criticised those within the Orange Order leadership who called for protests.