Broadway riots 10127mj11

Riots as Orange Order marchers mark 12th

Trouble flared across the North of Ireland in the run up to the annual Orange Order July 12 celebrations.

While the Protestant order's marches - commemorating King William of Orange's 1690 Battle of the Boyne victory over Catholic King James II - continued on Tuesday, council workers in Belfast were left to pick up the pieces after episodes of rioting across the city in the nights preceding the 12th.

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Last weekend, violence erupted in the outskirts of North Belfast when loyalists clashed with the PSNI over the removal of union and paramilitary flags near a Catholic church in the area.

Six police officers sustained whiplash when a hijacked bus was used to ram a police vehicle while other vehicles were hijacked, set alight and used to attack police lines.

The PSNI deployed water cannon and plastic bullets were fired after a number of petrol bombs and other missiles were thrown by loyalists in Ballyclare and Carrickfergus on Saturday night (see full report on Page 4).

On the evening of Monday July 11, when the traditional "11th night" bonfires are lit in loyalist communities, there was more trouble in North and West Belfast.

Twenty-two police officers were injured during the rioting on Monday night. Vehicles, including a public bus, were hijacked as trouble reigned on Broadway, off the nationalist Falls Road.

Hundreds of nationalists threw petrol bombs and other debris at police during serious rioting that lasted up to five hours. It was a similar picture in North Belfast where 200 nationalist youths clashed with the PSNI on the Oldpark Road and the New Lodge areas.

More than 40 petrol bombs were hurled at the PSNI who responded by firing 51 plastic bullets at the crowds and again used water cannon in a bid to disperse the rioters.

One terrified woman, who lives on Broadway, described the moment an abandoned burning vehicle slammed into her front wall.

"I had my three children and my grandchild in this house," she said.

"I looked out the window and saw a burning van roll towards my home; we were all squealing, we were terrified. They've just destroyed this area, there's no justification for it."

"The Broadway area of West Belfast has been left on its head, having been encroached by violent youths who are intent on inciting fear in this community, causing harm to our emergency services and destroying property," said SDLP Belfast City Council member Tim Attwood.

"Those responsible are doing the people of West Belfast a grave disservice and their futile actions have left residents feeling utterly disgusted," he said.

The violence has been condemned by representatives across the political spectrum. Before the trouble erupted, politicians and churchmen had appealed for calm, but to little avail.

Is some areas, however, protests were peaceful. An Orange Order "feeder parade" passed in the Ardoyne area in North Belfast, was met by nationalists staging a silent protest.