Belfast riot accused to face special court

Loyalist rioters in Belfast have been warned they will face a judge within hours of arrest, after special courts were set up to deal with alleged troublemakers.

Stormont’s Justice Minister David Ford issued the stark ultimatum to those contemplating further violence after two successive nights of disorder in the north of the city.

Seven police officers were injured in last night’s clashes.

Petrol bombs, bricks, bottles and other missiles were thrown at officers in the same Woodvale area in the north of the city that witnessed serious disorder on Friday night.

Police responded by firing 10 baton rounds and deploying water cannon.

The latest police casualties came after 32 officers were injured on Friday night and MP for North Belfast Nigel Dodds was hospitalised after being struck by a brick. He was discharged on Saturday morning.

Around 35 arrests have been made since Friday, though police expect to make many more after analysing video footage of the disorder.

A special sitting of Belfast Magistrates’ Court is being held today with contingencies in place to keep it running if the trouble continues.

Mr Ford said today: “While the violence of last evening was not on the scale of Friday, I wish to make it clear that anyone intent on rioting will be dealt with speedily by the courts.

“Sunday courts are in operation and I would warn those intent on engaging in violence on our streets to think through the consequences of their actions.

“To young people in particular, I would say this: ’Do you want to leave home today with a clean record and by tonight have a criminal record, which could have consequences which will stay with you for the rest of your life?’

“My message is clear; do not get involved in rioting on our streets, but if you choose to do so, then be prepared to face the courts within hours.”

None of the officers hurt last night were seriously injured and all remained on duty.

While Friday’s violence spread from the Woodvale Road to other parts of Belfast, in particular the Newtownards Road area in the east, last night’s trouble was confined to the north of the city.

It began around 8.30pm with order restored around 1.30am.

Trouble first flared on Friday as police attempted to enforce a decision banning a controversial Orange Order parade from passing the republican Ardoyne area on the Crumlin Road in north Belfast.

Four hundred extra police officers from Great Britain were deployed to Northern Ireland yesterday.

More than 600 mutual aid officers from England, Scotland and Wales were already in the region supporting the PSNI operation as tensions surrounding the traditional Twelfth of July commemorations spiralled into disorder.

The Orange Order had originally called for protests against the determination of the Parades Commission adjudication body but, in the wake of Friday’s violence, senior Orangemen called for protest action to be suspended.

PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott has condemned those responsible for the trouble and also criticised those within the Orange Order leadership who called for protests.


Most Read in Ireland