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N Ireland Police Clash with Protesters

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TEHRAN, July 13 (ICANA) – In Northern Ireland, riot police have clashed with tens of thousands of Catholic protesters in the capital Belfast, using plastic bullets and strong water cannons to disperse them.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011 8:38:58 PM
N Ireland Police Clash with Protesters

Crowds, mostly Catholic youth, in Ardoyne area in Belfast dominated by Roman Catholics clashed with the Orange Order, a pro-British Protestant brotherhood whose yearly July 12 demonstrations celebrate 17th-century military triumphs over Catholics, AP reported on Tuesday.

During the confrontations which lasted for several hours, dozens of police officers received minor injuries while trying to control the burning of some cars which the protesters had set ablaze.

Some officers were also injured when crowds of nationalists threw petrol bombs and masonry at them.

The police tried to prevent direct Protestant-Catholic street fighting by three massive mobile water cannons that doused street fighters, journalists and spectators alike.

Catholic clashes with police surrounding the Protestants' July 12 parades last year ran for three nights and left 83 officers wounded, mostly on the bitterly contested streets of Ardoyne -- a hard-line Irish nationalist enclave of red-brick rowhouses in north Belfast -- long renowned as a power base of the outlawed Irish Republican Army.

"The Twelfth" officially commemorates the July 12, 1690, triumph of Protestant King William of Orange versus his Catholic rival for the English throne, James II, at the Battle of the Boyne south of Belfast.

The area's member of British Parliament, Protestant lawmaker Nigel Dodds, said "most Catholic leaders in the area toiled hard to keep the peace."

Ardoyne community worker Joe Marley said locals were retaliating for what he described as "heavy-handed police tactics" and the Orangemen's annual "muscle-flexing exercise."

Many Catholics regard the annual victory parade as provocative. Violent protests often erupt as marchers pass through Catholic suburbs.

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