Loyalists attack PSNI landrovers which blocked their return route home on Saturday

Loyalists attack PSNI landrovers which blocked their return route home on Saturday

THE Orange Order said it is not to blame for the violence which broke out over the Twelfth of July.

It said it has been “consistent and unambiguous” in appeals for no violence at planned protests over a Parades Commission ruling.

The statement comes as a DUP delegation will meet with the PSNI later on Monday morning to discuss the recent events in Belfast.

Chief Constable Matt Baggott on Saturday described the scenes on the Twelfth of July in north and east Belfast as “shameful and disgraceful”.

He said some of the leadership from the Orange Order had been “reckless” and “compromised the safety of many people”.

He continued: “Some of the leadership within the Orange Order need to reflect upon whether they provided the responsible leadership asked for by myself and by the party leaders.

“Some of their language was emotive and having called thousands of people to protest they had no plan and no control and I think the word for that is reckless. Not to have a plan, not to have control compromised the safety of many people.”

Reacting to criticism over scenes of violence and disorder since Friday, the County Grand Orange Lodge of Belfast released a statement on Monday.

It described a “considerable anger expressed by the entire Protestant Unionist and Loyalist community ” and that “there was never any appeal for people to join these protests”.

“Those who had come for a peaceful protest were soaked and injured, leading to anger amongst many of those gathered,” the statement said on Woodvale disorder.

“Orangemen and politicians tried to calm the situation down, and we pay tribute to Nigel Dodds, local politicians and other partners from the Belfast Parades forum, – for their work at this protest, but also several other times throughout the day .”

They added violence in east Belfast was “not result of any protest action” and claimed that police had stopped a parade, which was then attacked by Short Strand residents.

They added that a number of peaceful protests had been held without incident.

“The PSNI have serious questions to answer, not least with so many police officers available, why were they unable to stop clearly orchestrated attacks,” the statement said.

“There will be the blame game and point scoring by all for the events that unfolded, however the Orange Institution will not be scapegoated for where the responsibility for this crisis truly lies – at the door of the Parades Commission.

“The violence, which we condemn, cannot be used as an excuse for not addressing the issues that have been raised by this ludicrous determination and Nationalist’s intolerance. Issues that require a political response and solution.

“It was always that politics would be the ultimate solution and in that respect we welcome the recall of the Assembly .

“We will review our position regarding peaceful protest after the debate there and following further discussions with our political and community partners. We again reiterate, violence is not the way forward and ask all involved in such activity to stop immediately.”

Justice Minister David Ford earlier called for the Orange Order to “start to show some leadership” after a third night of disorder in north Belfast.

On Sunday night a police officer was injured after six petrol bombs, fireworks and stones were thrown at police in the areas of Woodvale Road and Ballygomartin Road.

Police responded by fired two baton rounds but did not use water cannon.

At least 33 officers have now been hurt in the violence that has erupted in Belfast since Friday.

“It’s clear that there has been a certain intensity of violence for the third night running,” Justice Minister David Ford commented on Monday .

The violence is achieving absolutely nothing except harming the image of

Northern Ireland, injuring police officers and potentially giving people criminal records that will affect of rest of their lives.

Justice Minister David Ford

“Unfortunately some of the language which was used on the Twelfth and in the run up to the Twelfth undoubtedly contributed to the situation which led to some people rioting,”Mr Ford continued.

“There is a real challenge now for the Orange Order to start to show some leadership, engage with local residents around Ardoyne and to carry on that process in a meaningful way over a period of time and not just in a few day s in the lead up to the Twelfth.”

Mr Ford added: “Now is the time for anybody who has any influence or any leadership to call off the protests and to ensure that no more young people get themselves a criminal record.”

Police have said the Shore Road is now passable with care after it was blocked by a burning car and bins.

Earlier on Sunday around 300 people including Orangemen gathered at Twaddell Avenue where a peaceful white line protest took place.

A group of nationalists also gathered from the other side of the Ardoyne roundabout but later dispersed.

The incidents come after the Parades Commission ruled that an Orange Order parade could not walk past the mainly nationalist Ardoyne area on the Twelfth of July .

The Orange Order had called for protests against the Parades Commission’s ruling; however this call was suspended in the wake of the violence.

On Friday , 32 officers were injured during six hours of rioting in the north and east of the city .

Elsewhere five people, aged 15 to 25, were arrested in Newtownabbey where there were also scenes of disorder.

Ten people have also appeared before a special sitting of Belfast Magistrates’ Court charged in connection with rioting in the north and east of the city .


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