Violence flares at parade flashpoint

Violence flared during an Orange parade which marched through a flashpoint area of north Belfast.

Violence flared during an Orange parade which marched through a flashpoint area of north Belfast.

Loyalist and nationalist crowds clashed last night as two lodges returned from the main "Tour of the North" parade, which is largely seen as the beginning of the summer marching season.

Stones and missiles rained down as the RUC intervened to keep the angry mobs apart.

The main parade, consisting of up to 3,000 Orangemen including the newly-elected Democratic Unionist MP for the area, Nigel Dodds, passed off without incident.

But skirmishes broke out as the "feeder parade" passed the nationalist Ardoyne area on the way back to Ligoniel.

A Parades Commission ruling had banned the Orangemen from playing music as they passed the shops at Ardoyne.

North Belfast Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly accused the Orange Order of "coat-trailing" through a Catholic area.

"They shouted sectarian abuse, they played their sectarian music and they waved their flags all over the place. It was an abuse of the residents of this area," he said.

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