An injured police officer is dragged from the front line by colleagues
By Anthony Neeson
Twenty-four police officers and a 16-year-old girl have been injured during disturbances following Belfast’s 12th of July parade on Monday.
With the Twelfth falling on a Sunday this year, the main parades took place the day after, and while the parades themselves were peaceful, violence once more erupted as loyalists tried to gain access onto the Crumlin Road in North Belfast.
Police had blocked off their route back to Ligoniel for the third year in a row after a determination from the Parades Commission, preventing them from passing through the nationalist Ardoyne.
Earlier in the morning a limited number were permitted to pass the same stretch of road on their way into the city center and the main Twelfth demonstration.
However, on the return leg, loyalists clashed with police not long after the parade reached the security barriers.
Further up the Crumlin Road, where nationalists had gathered near the Ardoyne shops, a car ploughed into the crowd trapping a 16-year-old girl underneath it.
Police and locals pushed the car over freeing the girl. She remains in hospital but her condition is described as stable. A man was arrested by police and remains in custody.
Holy Cross priest, Fr. Gary Donegan, said the car “went right over the top” of the girl.
“PSNI officers and local residents managed to lift the car off her,” he added.
“There were graphic scenes of seeing her feet sticking out from underneath the car. You could actually see the marks of the vehicle on the back of her jeans. She was very distressed.”
Meanwhile, 12th of July bonfires were in the spotlight this year as many as many were adorned with political posters of nationalist candidates, Irish tricolors, and effigies including one of hunger striker Bobby Sands, as well as Sinn Féin's Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness and Michelle Gildernew.
Ms. Gildernew hit out at those behind the displays.
“When are we going to see some courageous leadership from political unionism and the Orange Order when it comes to this hate filled practice of burning of effigies, flags and election posters on bonfires," she said.
“Not satisfied with insulting the entire nationalist community by burning our national flag and candidates’ election posters, the organizers of these bonfires have now taken to burning effigies.
“A disgusting display of bigoted sectarianism is the bonfire at Moygashel depicting an effigy of myself accompanied by a message declaring it to represent a public hanging.
It also makes reference to a quote by former Ulster Unionist Leader, Tom Elliott, when he referred to Sinn Féin voters as scum.
“With that kind of leadership is it any wonder that these Neanderthals think this type of insult is part of their culture."