Lifestyle & Belief

Northern Ireland: Police hurt in sectarian clashes


Armed policemen walk past a wall with the words 'CIRA Still At War' sprayed on it in a residential estate in Craigavon, Northern Ireland, on March 10, 2009. In nearby Belfast, a total of 62 police officers were injured in 24 hours in clashes between rival Protestant and Catholic gangs.



A second night of rioting in Belfast has left 15 Northern Irish police officers injured. Catholic and Protestant gangs have been throwing petrol bombs, bricks and bottles at police and each other in some of the worst sectarian violence seen this year, reports Bloomberg.

Fighting in Northern Ireland is common through the summer when parades held by Protestants, who want the country to remain part of the United Kingdom, are seen as provocative by the Catholic community, who want to be part of a united Ireland. 

The fighting broke out Sunday after Catholic Irish nationalists held a parade in an area where Protestant groups were recently barred from marching, reports NBC News.

CNN reports that police were attacked with "fireworks, petrol bombs, masonry and lasers," and responded with water cannons, they said. A spokesman for the Police Service of Northern Ireland told CNN that the gangs hijacked a van and pushed into police lines.

A total of 62 police were injured in just over 24 hours with three officers hurt Monday being sent to the hospital. 

The weekend's violence saw the largest number of police officers hurt since summer 2010 when rioting in the north Belfast neighborhood of Ardoyne injured more than 80 police, reports CNN. 

Police Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr told the BBC that the impact of violence on Northern Ireland "cannot be ignored." 

"Collectively, we cannot afford to wait and we cannot have night after night of violence on our streets," he told the BBC. 

"We do not want to take a backward step. I urge all those with influence to urgently use it to bring a resolution to the violence and work towards a longer term solution for the issues affecting this area."