Northern Ireland

Arrests after anti-internment parade violence in Belfast

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Media captionPolice deployed water cannon against protesters throwing stones and bottles at Oldpark Road in north Belfast

Three men and a woman were arrested after trouble following an anti-internment parade in north Belfast on Sunday.

Petrol bombs, stones and bottles were thrown at police after they stopped the parade entering Belfast city centre.

The march was stopped by police at Oldpark Road in the north of the city after it breached a determination by a parades ruling body over its timing.

Organisers had asked supporters to leave peacefully when the parade ended.

But police were forced to deploy water cannon about an hour later when a crowd threw missiles at them.

On Sunday night police said they would "now review the evidence gathered and pursue all relevant lines of inquiry relating to any offences or breaches of the Parades Commission determinations".

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Petrol bombs were thrown during trouble in the area where police stopped the parade

The march was organised by the Anti-Internment League to mark the introduction of detention without trial during the height of the Troubles.

Leave

The Parades Commission ruled the republican parade was to have passed Millfield junction by 13:30 BST, but it breached the ruling and did not start until about 14:00.

The march was stopped by police, who said their intention in blocking the parade was to "uphold the Parades Commission's determination".

During a short rally at the police line, a speaker told participants the parade had ended and asked those taking part to leave peacefully.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption A short rally was held by parade participants at the police line along the Oldpark Road

But a crowd remained in the area and later threw petrol bombs and other missiles at police officers.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness tweeted that those who organised the "so-called anti-internment demonstration" bore "full responsibility" for the violence.

Expense

The Anti-Internment League said "all march participants behaved peacefully and with dignity" when the parade reached the police cordon, before taking "the responsible decision" to leave the area.

But the DUP MLA William Humphrey accused the organisers of making a "deliberate decision" to breach the timing condition imposed on the march.

Image caption A large crowd gathered at the cordon where bands played and speeches were given to the crowd

"The organisers of this parade of shame have succeeded only in increasing inter-community tensions, causing huge expense for a massive policing operation and disrupting our city centre trade," the North Belfast MLA said.

Progressive Unionist Party leader Billy Hutchinson said: "This so-called parade or demonstration was an absolute disgrace and nothing more than an extension of the ongoing and repeated threats of violence and intimidation that violent republicans present to the political and peace process."

Earlier, police made a direct appeal to the event's organisers to discuss the planned route and its timing with them.

They said they had made attempts to talk to the group but had not been successful.

Injured

Some roads in the city centre were closed from an earlier point in the day, including North Street, Royal Avenue and High Street.

Image caption Police had earlier gathered in Belfast city centre ahead of the republican anti-internment parade

Translink said there was disruption to some of its city centre routes, but that they have since resumed normal services.

In previous years, the parade has proceeded through the city.

At the same event two years ago, 56 officers were injured when loyalist protesters attacked the police.

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