Northern Ireland

Nine returned for trial over Twelfth of July riot

Nine men are to go on trial accused of involvement in rioting in Belfast on 12 July last year, a judge has ruled.

Charges were brought against the suspects following serious street disorder in the north of the city.

Twenty police officers were injured in wider clashes surrounding an Orange Order parade and counter-demonstration by nationalist residents.

Petrol bombs, fireworks and other missiles were thrown as violence flared.

Ten gunshots were also fired at police from a semi-automatic rifle.

Appearing before the city's magistrates' court for a preliminary enquiry hearing were: Martin Faulkner, 41, from the Antrim Road; Paul Faulkner, 31, of Queens Parade; Brian Gavin, 19, of Woodside Park, Dunmurry; Colin Loughlin, 21, from Filbert Drive, Dunmurry; Christopher McDonnell, 23, of Wyndham Street; Daniel Neill, 20, from Newington Street; Christopher Stitt, 23, of Carrick Hill; and Liam Thompson, 25, from Cliftonville Avenue, all in Belfast, and Pearse Toman, 25, of Garland Crescent, Lurgan, County Armagh.

Each of them faces a charge of riotous assembly on 12 July last year.

Mr Gavin is further accused of causing criminal damage to a BMW car while Mr Neill is also charged with an arson attack on a Citroen vehicle.

Mr Stitt faces a second count of taking a motor vehicle without consent, and Mr Toman is alleged to have thrown a petrol bomb.

Each of the accused spoke to confirm they understood the charges against them.

They all declined to call witnesses or give evidence at this stage in proceedings.

District Judge Harry McKibbin granted an application for the men to be returned for trial at Belfast Crown Court on a date to be fixed.

They were all released on continuing bail until that hearing gets underway.