There were disturbances in north Belfast this afternoon after a civil rights march against internment was prevented from marching through the city.
The demonstration, organised by the broad-based Anti-Internment League (AIL), was blocked from leaving the Ardoyne/Marrowbone area by the PSNI.
In the city centre, several hundred loyalists planning to attack the parade had been allowed to gather. At one point the loyalists threw fireworks at the assembled media and towards police.
When the parade was stopped, marchers stood holding placards in front of heavily armed riot police. Speakers also delivered speeches via loud hailers at the PSNI lines.
The demonstration then returned to march inside the nationalist area before dispersing peacefully.
Some two hours later, PSNI vehicles which had remained at Oldpark/Rosapenna area came under sporadic attack from local youths, and a small number of stones, bottles and petrol bombs were thrown. The PSNI responded with water cannon before eventually withdrawing.
The AIL said the intervention of the state this afternoon “served to confirm the Republican analysis that anyone who opposes the status quo is a second class citizen in the eyes of Britain” and the Stormont administration.
They said unlike the sectarian parades organised by loyalists, they had not marched “for marching’s sake”, and their goal of highlighting the continuing internment policy of Britain and the 26 County administration had been successful.
“Mainstream media outlets have been forced to confront the reality that republicans endure as a result of unjust incarceration”, they said, “not to mention the draconian conditions and torture strategy within Maghaberry and Hydebank”.
The decision to restrict the protest to an earlier time on Sunday morning was blamed by the marchers on city centre business interests, and there were suggestions that future applications to protest would be made for a Saturday.
The AIL thanked all those who travelled for the event.
“All march participants behaved peacefully and with dignity when facing down the armed wing of the State, before we took the responsible decision to march back into the Ardoyne area, avoiding a flashpoint of the PSNI’s own making.”