Forty-seven PSNI officers are injured in Belfast parade clashes

Nicola Weir reports for BBC Newsline

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Forty-seven police officers have been injured in riots surrounding a republican band parade in Belfast.

They were attacked with petrol bombs, fireworks, bricks and bottles during hours of disorder at Carlisle Circus.

The PSNI said the initial violence involved up to 350 loyalists. Four officers were taken to hospital.

After the parade took place there was trouble between loyalists and republicans, according to the police.

'Enduring violence'

One policeman remains in hospital with injuries that are not life threatening.

Tensions had been high following disturbances at a loyalist march in the same the area last weekend.

In a statement on Monday, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) officer in charge of the operation, Chief Supt George Clark, said: "I am both angry and sad that my officers have been subjected to such significant attack.

Parade Route

  • Duncairn Parade
  • Newlodge Road
  • Antrim Road
  • Churchill Street
  • Lepper Street
  • Newlodge Road
  • North Queen Street
  • Clifton Street
  • Henry Place

"They showed tremendous courage in the face of enduring violence."

He added that those responsible would be "held to account for their actions".

"We had a plan in place to deal with, what we thought, might happen. We were not dealing with a situation in which we had a notified protest. We were not expecting to see protesters out onto Clifton Street," the officer said.

The PSNI used water cannon to disperse rioters and said calm was restored to the area at about 02:00 BST on Monday. Most of the violence was centred in Denmark Street and the Antrim Road.

A 17-year-old boy has been arrested on suspicion of riotous behaviour.

Up to 300 people had been expected to take part in the parade organised by the Henry Joy McCracken Flute Band.

The band had told the Parades Commission they would be accompanied by up to 100 supporters along the route, which began at Duncairn Parade in the New Lodge area at 14:00 BST and travelled to Henry Place near Clifton Street.

Police confront loyalists Police had been keeping loyalist protesters back from a republican parade

Sinn Fein MLA Fra McCann said a house in west Belfast had been petrol-bombed at about 17:30 BST in a sectarian attack.

He said the attack would have had more serious consequences if the house had not been fitted with reinforced glass.

He said: "There are five children who live in this house and this can only be described as attempted murder by those responsible."

An Orange Hall in north Belfast was also attacked.

A spokesman for the County Grand Orange Lodge of Belfast said: "While those who carry out such mindless acts of vandalism need little by way of encouragement, it has to be said that ill-considered remarks by some have done little to ease the tensions over this past week."

Situation escalated

In advance of the parade, a police spokeswoman said officers were dealing with "small levels of disorder" in the area.

However, the situation escalated in the late afternoon during the return leg of the march.

Seven police officers were injured in the previous disorder which took place on Saturday 25 August, during the annual Royal Black Institution demonstration.

Bricks and bottles were thrown as several loyalist bands defied Parades Commission rulings and played music as they marched past St Patrick's Catholic Church on nearby Donegall Street.

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