Plastic bullets fired to disperse Belfast rioters
Police say they fired six plastic baton rounds as nine officers were injured in a second night of sectarian violence in Belfast
The Police Service of Northern Ireland said that it fired six plastic baton rounds as nine officers were injured, with three taken to hospital, in a second night of sectarian violence in north Belfast.
There were unconfirmed reports that at least two loyalist protesters were hit with plastic bullets during what the PSNI described as “serious disorder”.
Buses and cars were hijacked and set alight in the Lower Shankill area, where several hundred loyalists were on the streets, many of them attacking PSNI riot squad officers.
The PSNI used blue dye in water cannon fired at the rioters near Denmark Street. The paint will be used later to help identify offenders. The Shankill Road was also sealed off and motorists were advised to avoid the area.
Loyalist sources said large numbers of members of the illegal Ulster Volunteer Force gathered in the area from other parts of Belfast to support the Shankill Road loyalists engaged in the violence.
The trouble erupted following a loyalist protest against what they claimed was “heavy handed policing” on Sunday night. Around 100 republicans in the nearby Antrim Road area were kept apart from the loyalists by the police. Some republican youths were reported to have thrown missiles at the police.
The trouble on Sunday lasted almost 10 hours and broke out after a republican flute band and supporters passed Clifton Street Orange Hall. Earlier a 17-year-old youth arrested during the violence on Sunday, when 47 police officers were injured, was charged with riotous assembly, assault on police, assault causing actual bodily harm and resisting arrest.
Pictured: Police use a water cannon on loyalist rioters in North Belfast on Sunday. The area has seen a second night of disorder with nine police officers injured. Photograph: Peter Morrison/AP