Police used water cannons to break up a nationalist riot today following a controversial Protestant Orange Order parade in west Belfast.
Stones, bottles, bricks, fireworks and paint bombs were thrown at police lines by a crowd of around 300 people after Orangemen passed through the Springfield Road to the sound of whistles from a nationalist counter demonstration.
A nationalist residents’ group representative claimed the violence erupted when police failed to pull out of the area once the marchers had passed.
Sean Paul O’Hare, of Springfield Residents’ Action Group, said: ‘‘The PSNI did not pull out even though we had asked them to do so.
‘‘I think that these disturbances were an indication of just how angry people in the community are.
‘‘They were angry at this decision to allow the march through with no route restriction and feel the Parades Commission has put the community into a corner.
‘‘We went to them with positive proposals and those were rejected. The police have also not helped matters by their handling of the parade.’’
An independent unionist councillor, who earlier in the week urged both communities to ensure that today’s march passed off peacefully, said the violence on the nationalist side was ‘‘regrettable’’.
Frank McCoubrey said: ‘‘I’d like to pay tribute to the people and organisers of today’s Orange Order parade for ensuring that it was conducted in a peaceful and dignified manner.
‘‘I am sorry that I cannot say the same about whoever organised the protests on the nationalist side.’’
Mr McCoubrey claimed those responsible for the violence on the nationalist side were intent on a confrontation with the police.
The incident followed overnight disturbances in the east of the city in the Short Strand during which two police officers were injured and a house on the loyalist side in Cluan Place was destroyed.
Loyalist and Sinn Fein representatives blamed each other’s community.