kunc-header-1440x90.png
NPR for Northern Colorado
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
NPR News

Protestants, Catholics Clash In Belfast; Dozens Hurt

Loyalist protesters clash with riot police in the center of Belfast, Northern Ireland, on Friday.
Loyalist protesters clash with riot police in the center of Belfast, Northern Ireland, on Friday.

A confrontation between Protestants and Catholics in Belfast, Northern Ireland, erupted into violence overnight, injuring 56 police officers and two civilians.

"Belfast's main shopping district was turned into a battlefield last night as thousands of loyalists clashed with riot police to prevent a republican dissident rally passing down the city's main thoroughfare," The Guardian writes.

Police say the clashes began when Protestant mobs tried to block a march by supporters of the Irish Republican Army.

The Independent reports:

"The protesters hurled bricks, bottles and fireworks at police before the parade arrived. Some cars were set on fire in the North Street area, and shops were damaged.

Police used rubber bullets, water cannon and dogs to control the crowds, which prevented the parade from passing as planned along Royal Avenue - one of the city's main shopping areas, near City Hall. Five of the injured officers needed hospital treatment."

Chief Constable Matt Baggott vowed to arrest those responsible, accusing the Protestants of "mindless anarchy and sheer thuggery."

At a Belfast news conference on Saturday, Baggott vowed that the prison population would soon be "bulging" as detectives used video footage to identify rioters.

Reuters writes:

"The Catholic parade, marking the anniversary of the 1971 introduction of internment without trial by British authorities, eventually had to pass along a different route.

"Forty-two years ago, soldiers swept into Catholic districts and arrested more than 340 people as the British government sought to halt growing Irish Republican Army (IRA) violence aimed at extinguishing rule from London.

"In all, more than 3,600 people died in a sectarian conflict that began in the late 1960s, including more than 1,000 members of the British security forces. More than 36,000 were injured."

Britain's minister for Northern Ireland, Theresa Villiers, said in a statement, that Friday's night's violence was "shameful".

"Disorder on the streets is a hugely regrettable step backwards," she said.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Related Content
  • The new film from the director of Man on Wire and Project Nim, James Marsh, is a fiction film about the period toward the end of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. It stars Clive Owen and up-and-comer Andrea Riseborough.
  • The capital of Northern Ireland is no longer the city of snipers that it was before the Good Friday Agreement, but novelist Stuart Neville still draws inspiration from the decades of violence. In The Ghosts of Belfast, he examines the shattered life of an IRA killer in the aftermath of The Troubles.
  • Colin Broderick's new memoir, That's That, chronicles his childhood in Northern Ireland during the modern-day "Troubles." Broderick says growing up in what was essentially a war zone seemed normal to him at the time.
  • Boston College scholars interviewed paramilitary fighters on both sides of a violent, decades-long conflict in Northern Ireland. Now, the British government wants access to those confidential interviews. The case worries historians who fear it may make people more reluctant to share their stories.