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Gilmore condemns 'appalling' attacks on police in Belfast

The Tánaiste said he believed most members of the Orange Order would not condone the violence or the burning of the Irish flag.

A petrol bomb hits riot police after it was thrown by loyalist rioters in the Woodvale area of north Belfast.
A petrol bomb hits riot police after it was thrown by loyalist rioters in the Woodvale area of north Belfast.
Image: Peter Morrison/AP/PA

TÁNAISTE EAMON GILMORE has today condemned those responsible for the violence which occurred during riots in Belfast over the weekend.

A number of police officers were injured when crowds of loyalists hurled missiles and petrol bombs at them. The violence kicked off after police stopped an Orange Order parade from passing through the nationalist Ardyone area during the Twelfth of July commemorations.

On Friday night alone, more than 30 officers were injured as several were knocked unconscious and one suffered from a broken jaw. The violence continued for another two nights with a number of arrests made last night.

Speaking today, Gilmore said that the attacks on police which led to over 40 in total being injured are “simply unacceptable and appalling”.

“I believe that most members of the Orange Order would not condone the sectarianism we witnessed in recent days, be that the playing of sectarian tunes outside a catholic church or the burning of the Irish flag,” he said.

It’s important to remember that over the period of the 12th there were almost 600 parades. The great majority of these passed off peacefully.  But where individuals who march behind the banners of an organisation commit blatant acts of sectarianism, it is simply not acceptable for that organisation to try to explain or condone it – or even to ignore it.  Its leaders and its members must clearly condemn it.

The Tánaiste added that Northern Ireland’s reputation had been “greatly enhanced” by last month’s G8 meeting and the scenes witnessed this weekend put this good work at risk.

He called for political efforts on both sides to focus on ensuring the scenes are not repeated and said he was hopeful that outstanding issues around parades can be worked through.

The Northern Ireland Assembly is due to meet tomorrow to discuss the violence that took place over the weekend.

Related: Petrol bombs thrown at police in Belfast for third night running>
More: Police knocked unconscious by rioters ‘wielding swords and missiles’ in Belfast>

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