02 July 2005

Criticism over police handling of mini-Twelfth

Belfast Telegraph

By Brian Hutton
02 July 2005

POLICE chiefs were today criticised for their handling of last night's Orange parade in Belfast which ended with minor disturbances.

Witnesses claimed that a group of youths in the nationalist Markets area, some with hurling sticks, threw stones at cars leaving the "mini-Twelfth" parade in the east of the city.

There were reports that two children had to be hospitalised for minor injuries after a window was smashed in the car they were travelling in.

There were also claims that a police officer had been injured, but a PSNI spokeswoman said today that it had received no complaints or reports of any injuries.

She said that a few cars were damaged and a number of windows were broken during the incident at the junction of East Bridge Street and Stewart Street at around 8.30pm.

East Belfast DUP councillor and District Policing Partnership member Jim Rodgers criticised the "over-policing" of the parade.

"I counted 30 Army and 10 police Land Rovers as I was travelling on the Sydenham By-pass on the way to the march," he said.

"These then moved into the area where the parade was, yet 200 yards away (in the Markets area), where there have been repeated attacks in the past, there was only one Land Rover.

"The police are not getting this right. There is a massive presence in one area and very little in the other.

"Part of the problem is that police officers don't know the area," he added.

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