Northern Ireland

Three arrests after Belfast parade trouble

A police woman was injured during the trouble
Image caption A police woman sustained head injuries during the trouble

Three people have been arrested after trouble broke out during a loyal order parade in Belfast on Saturday.

Seven police officers were injured during disturbances after a number of bands defied rulings made by the Parades Commission during the Royal Black Institution parade.

A 13-year-old boy was arrested on suspicion of riotous behaviour. He was released pending a report to the Public Prosecution Service.

Two men were later charged.

During Saturday's trouble a policewoman was treated for minor head injuries but was later discharged from hospital. No officer suffered serious injuries.

The Young Conway Volunteers band had defied a Parades Commission ruling which barred them from marching past St Patrick's Church on Donegall Street.

It made the ruling after the Shankill Road-based band was filmed walking in circles outside the same church while playing a contentious song on 12 July.

Image caption Reverend Leslie Carroll said the Parades Commission rulings should be obeyed

At the time, the Young Conway Volunteers said it was "pure chance" that they had come to a halt there and insisted they were not playing the Famine Song, an anti-Irish song that originated in Glasgow.

On Saturday, a number of bands also defied a second Parades Commission ruling by playing music as they marched past the church.

A number of protesters were separated from the march by a large police presence.

The trouble broke out as the last of the bands marched past the church.

A Presbyterian minister in north Belfast, Reverend Leslie Carroll, said she sympathised with the congregation at St Patrick's Church.

But she added: "I understand that there is a lot of anger about the Parades Commission and about the decisions that it has made.

"From the point of view of the Presbyterian Church, we have always said that local engagement is the way to resolve all of these things and we would encourage that.

"How we accommodate the anger or hear the anger is a big challenge for us. Nevertheless the Parades Commission is an official government body and its rulings should be obeyed."


North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds said that the loyal orders had seen more and more restrictions placed on them and that people have had enough.

In a statement, he said the Parades Commission had "brought its own determinations into disrepute and it bears the principal responsibility for the inevitable outcome".

But Alban Maginness of the SDLP said he was "disgusted" by the behaviour of the marchers saying there had been an "attempt to undermine the authority of the Parades Commission and the police".

"I have to say it is a complete dereliction of duty by, in particular, DUP politicians to ignore what has happened - to defend what has happened - and to try to undermine further the standing of the Parades Commission," he added.

The police have charged a 38-year-old man with disorderly behaviour and provocative conduct.

An 18-year-old has been charged with disorderly behaviour and assault on police.

The return leg of the parade on Saturday evening passed off largely peacefully.

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