Northern Ireland

G8 officers drafted in for Orange Order parades on 12 July

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionChief Constable Matt Baggott said 630 officers would provide support to the PSNI

Police officers from the rest of the UK are being brought in to support officers in Northern Ireland for 12 July Orange Order parades.

Police Service of Northern Ireland chief constable Matt Baggott said 630 officers would provide the support.

Only officers who trained with the PSNI for the G8 summit will be used.

He said this year represented a "unique 12 July" with more than 550 parades, and 43 regarded as "sensitive".

Mr Baggott said that armed police officers would accompany the officers from England, Scotland and Wales.

He said the officers from Britain would be be deployed in "less sensitive areas" and only if they have had the recent G8 training.

Mr Baggott said the decision did not indicate concern at upcoming Parades Commission determinations, but that the PSNI was "planning for every eventuality".

"I do not want young people getting caught up in rioting," he added.

"I want police to be concentrating upon dealing with crime that blights communities and not investigating disorder.

"We are committed to ensuring that the forthcoming parades pass off peacefully and that the determinations of the Parades Commission will be upheld."

The Parades Commission is a quasi-judicial independent body that adjudicates on contentious marches in Northern Ireland.

It was set up in 1997, following years of sectarian tension and violence at the annual Drumcree parade in County Armagh.

The commissioners consider submissions from both parade organisers and those who object to marches. Parades Commission determinations are legally binding.

There has been serious violence at Ardoyne in north Belfast in previous years after opposition to the 12 July Orange Order feeder parade in the area.

The Greater Ardoyne Residents' Collective (GARC), a residents group that has opposed previous Orange parades past Ardoyne, has filed an application with the commission for an "equality and civil rights march" on the Crumlin Road in north Belfast at 14:00 BST on the 12 July.

The commission has yet to rule on that application and on the Orange Order parade.

Earlier on Tuesday, Mr Baggott briefed the five main party leaders In Northern Ireland at Stormont Castle on his plans for policing parades over 12 July.

In a statement after the meeting, the party leaders said they welcomed the briefing and were "committed to building a positive image of Northern Ireland".

"We appeal to community leaders and, indeed others, such as parents to seek a peaceful parading season to avoid an impact on our citizens, through damaged community relations or the life-restricting consequences of criminal records," they said.

More on this story