Northern Ireland

Anti-internment march: Minor trouble amid tight security in Belfast

Some of the anti-internment marchers heading towards Belfast city centre
Image caption Some of the anti-internment marchers heading towards Belfast city centre

There has been minor trouble at a loyalist protest against a republican anti-internment rally in Belfast.

The march began at about 13:00 BST in the north of the city and passed through Belfast's main shopping district.

Loyalists staged demonstrations against the parade that marks the anniversary of internment in August 1971.

A small number of protesters threw fireworks, plastic bottles and coins at the parade. No-one was injured.

At the same event last year, 56 officers were injured when loyalists protesters attacked the police.

Image caption Police vehicles separated the parade from the protest on Sunday

This year's republican march was organised by the Anti-Internment League, to mark the introduction of detention without trial during the height of the Troubles.

The league told the Parades Commission that it expected 4,000 people to take part in the march, with a similar number of supporters.

Image caption There was a large police presence around the Castle Court shopping centre

The rally began at Ardoyne Avenue in the north of the city, before heading towards the city centre.

A group of about 200 loyalists staged a protest, and trouble erupted as the parade passed Castlecourt shopping centre.

BBC NI reporter Mark Simpson said a small number of the protesters threw some missiles.

"The loyalists claimed that the republicans had taunted them about IRA atrocities including the Shankill bomb and the Enniskillen bomb.

"The city centre has now returned to normal."

Many roads in the city centre were closed to traffic during the parade.

Image copyright Mark simpson
Image caption Belfast's main shopping district, ahead of a republican march and loyalist protest at lunchtime
Image caption Water cannon was brought into Belfast city centre during the security operation on Sunday

Loyalist protesters had applied to stage two counter-demonstrations against the march.

The Parades Commission has placed restrictions on the number of loyalists permitted to attend the protests, limiting them to total of 400 people at two demonstration points.

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