Loyalists rioted for a fifth evening in a row last night over the failure to permit a sectarian march through the nationalist Ardoyne area on north Belfast.
Petrol bombs and other missiles were thrown at the PSNI police on lower Newtownards Road, and four cars were hijacked and burned out.
A French press photographer was assaulted by rioters and had his camera stolen.
The violence also reached to North Queen Street, Woodvale Road and Mount Vernon in north Belfast.
Fires were lit on North Queen Street and on Woodvale Road, where the anti-Catholic Orange Order and their loyalist supporters continue to seek to march down the Crumlin Road into nationalist and republican estates. The Orangemen consider the area to be a key part of their “traditional” anti-Catholic march.
For the first time this week, the PSNI deployed water cannon to the nearby Mount Vernon area, where UVF paramilitary figures have been blamed for orchestrating riots.
There were also disturbances in the past 48 hours in Portadown, County Armagh; Newtownabbey, County Antrim; and in PittPark, close to the nationalist Short Strand in east Belfast, where a blast bomb was thrown.
Loyalist paramilitary leaders continue to be blamed for organising the disorder. The same areas were assiduously targeted by the same organisations earlier this year during the ‘flag protests’, in an attempt to overturn a Belfast council decision to reduce the flying of the British Union Jack flag over City Hall.
The PSNI also said that on Monday night, a device was thrown at one of their Landrovers from the nationalist Brompton Park in north Belfast, drawing strong condemnation from nationalist politicians.
STORMONT BACKS ORANGEMEN
On Tuesday the Six-County Assembly in Belfast backed a unionist motion in support of the protests and condemning the decision by the Parades Commission to reroute the Orange march away from Ardoyne.
DUP leader and the Six-County First Minister Peter Robinson said a new Stormont group chaired by returned US envoy Richard Haass offered an “alternative”.
He indicated that the Orange Order could now support proposals to replace the Parades Commisssion, such as a two-tier adjudication system on parades to facilitate his own involvement in parade decisions alongside Sinn Fein’s Deputy Firat Minister, Martin McGuinness.
“I put it to the Orange institution,as I do to every party in the House, that there is now an all-party groupset up with the purpose of agreeing an alternative to the Parades Commission,” he said.
Supporting the DUP, Ulster Unionist leader MikeNesbitt said that “Proddies lie down” would not work, and that ‘mutual respect’ was needed -- paraphrasing the usual anti-Catholic phrase, ‘Croppies liedown’.
In an unusual departure, Basil McCrea, leader of the tiny new breakaway unionist NI21 party, openly criticised the Orange Order. It was the first time the leader of any Unionist party, however small, has criticised the quasi-religious body.
McCrea, who defected from the Ulster Unionist Party earlier this year, described the events of recent days as a “PR disaster” for Orangeism. “It was sickening, it was disgusting and it was not in my name,” he said, resulting in strong condemnation from loyalist extremists.
Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness told the same debate that sectarian parades were no longer a problem in his own home town, the overwhelmingly nationalist city of Derry.
“Last weekend was a tale of two cities -- in the city that I come from, we had a totally peaceful weekend,” he said.
“That came about as a result of a recognition many years ago by all the stakeholders in the city of Derry, including the loyal orders, of the importance of resolving the contention around parades.”
His appeal for talks between parade organisers and nationalist residents was narrowly rejected, however, and the Sinn Fein amendment fell three votes short of a majority.