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SECTARIAN RIOTS IN NORTH IRELAND

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BELFAST, N. Ireland - Police fired plastic bullets and water cannon amid sectarian riots overnight in Belfast, Northern Ireland's provincial capital, following parades by pro-British unionists. Sporadic rioting in predominantly nationalist Catholic neighbourhoods of the British-ruled province on Tuesday night came on the eve of the anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne, a date unionists celebrate with parades which are considered provocative by nationalists, who favour a united Ireland.
  • Around 200 people threw rocks, firecrackers and petrol bombs in the Ardoyne area of Belfast after police moved in to prevent them confronting the passing Orange Order parade on the disputed Crumlin Road.
  • Two cars were set on fire and dozens of rounds of plastic bullets were fired and police said a number of officers were injured.
  • Most of the 500 or so parades across the province passed peacefully, but police reported rioting in Londonderry, known as Derry by nationalists, Newry and Armagh, as well as the Markets area in central Belfast.
  • A small Orange Order parade passed the Ardoyne estate in near silence with one drummer keeping time after a government commission ordered marchers not to play their traditional drums or flutes on "The Twelth".
  • A few dozen residents held a silent protest as they passed, while a small group of women sang the Irish national anthem. But hundreds of others were pinned by police vans and officers in riot gear into an estate a hundred metres from the marchers, a move residents said was heavy-handed.
Marchers of the Orange Order brotherhood were marking English king William of Orange's victory over his Catholic predecessor, King James, at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, considered a key date by unionists in securing British rule in Ireland.
Source: Al Jazeera
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