Northern Irish police prepared to draft in more officers to combat rioting after a third night of violence flared around the time when the Protestant Orange Order marches to celebrate a 17th century victory over Catholics.
Police held five people between the ages of 15 and 25 last night on suspicion of riotous behavior in Newtownabbey north of Belfast. In all, 49 people have been arrested since trouble first broke out on July 11, the eve of the biggest parade, the Police Service of Northern Ireland said.
The marching season is traditionally a flashpoint in Northern Ireland each year and 44 officers have been hurt in clashes stemming from restrictions on parades held by the Orange Order. While the organization suspended organized protests after violence erupted, riots have continued in some of the worst scenes in the region since a wave of loyalist demonstrations paralyzed it in late December.
Police placed more than 4,000 officers on the streets of Northern Ireland on July 12. Hundreds more will be drafted in from across the U.K., a police spokeswoman said today, confirming a comment by Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr.
Some 31 petrol bombs were thrown last night, police said. Twenty-two people were charged in connection with the protests.
Peter Robinson, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party and leader of the province’s local government, condemned attacks on police on July 12, while saying the independent Parades Commission bears much of the responsibility for the situation.
Martin McGuinness, deputy first minister and a member of nationalist Sinn Fein, said on Twitter yesterday that recent events in Belfast have been “unacceptable” as he urged talks between parties involved.
The Orange Order’s marching season, with their pipes and drums, stretches from April until late August.
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