Northern Ireland news

PSNI: 'Responsible approach' made relatively peaceful Twelfth

The scene on the Twelfth morning for the Orange Order parade past Ardoyne. Picture by Hugh Russell

THE Twelfth demonstrations have been hailed by the PSNI as among the most peaceful in years, with no major confrontations or violence.

More than 3,000 officers were involved in monitoring in excess of 600 parades on Tuesday.

Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin said the they passed off "largely successfully" following months of preparation by police and other groups.

"I understand that expressing cultural identity is important within our society and equally that people have the right to protest peacefully," he said.

He praised the "responsible approach" taken by many communities.

"There was a minor confrontation at the Ardoyne shop fronts following the formal events of the day." he said.

"This was peacefully resolved in co-operation with community representatives."

However, he said there were several reported breaches of Parades Commission determinations.

"We will now be studying the footage recorded and if any offences are detected we will investigate and take appropriate action," he said.

Police would also investigate complaints of hate crimes, including the torching of politicians' election posters on bonfires.

ACC Martin added that one officer was injured when he was knocked down by a vehicle in Coagh, Co Tyrone, and wished him a "speedy recovery".

"Undoubtedly, from a policing perspective this has been one of the most successful Twelfths in recent years," he said.

Around 200 people were involved in a stand-off at Ardoyne shops in north Belfast on Tuesday night after a return Orange Order feeder parade passed off relatively peacefully.

Watch: Gerry Kelly speaks of 'possibility of resolution' in Ardoyne parade dispute


SDLP North Belfast MLA Nichola Mallon said the flashpoint had been "calm and peaceful" but claimed police had allowed flag-wearing loyalist youths carrying alcohol "through police lines and into close proximity with nationalist youths".

"Tensions were immediately heightened and the situation could easily have turned ugly," she said.

"While police liaised with us in an effort to ease tensions afterwards, this situation should never have developed in the first place. We have requested a meeting to discuss how and why this was allowed to happen."

Meanwhile, the Police Federation also said it was "one of the most successful Twelfth days in recent years".

Last year, 24 police officers were injured in attacks as they enforced a Parades Commission ban on Orangemen passing a stretch of the Crumlin Road in north Belfast.

Bricks, bottles and other missiles were thrown at police lines. One senior officer had surgery after his ear was almost severed by flying masonry.

Chairman Mark Lindsay said it was pleased no officers were injured during any disturbances this week.

"We didn’t have officers hurt in street confrontations or stand-offs, and that’s what we have been working to achieve," he said.

He added: "Loyal orders, community groups, local politicians and statutory bodies worked alongside the police to achieve this result, and it is one I would like to see built upon".

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