Resulting from a conflict that has been going on since the 1920’s between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland, sadly once again the two groups are fighting one another in the streets of Belfast. In the past decade, Northern Ireland has made strides to unify the two groups yet it has remained a constant struggle for unity within the nation.
According to Huffington Post, last night Catholic militants wounded 22 police officers during a riot shortly before Protestant parades were to take place today. The parades have become an annual test of the peace process’ headway. Police officers suffered a brutal battle with masked Catholic militants last night resulting in 22 police officers being wounded.
The militants used a slew of bottles, bricks, stones, and Molotov cocktails during the riot. Police officers responded firing plastic bullets and blasting the rioters with water cannons. According to the Daily Mail, a bus was hijacked and driven at police only to crash a short distance away. Other vehicles were reported to be hijacked as well, and a least one vehicle was set on fire by the rioters. The crowds numbered somewhere between 100 and 200 people.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the riot began shortly before midnight directly after police removed flags of pro-British paramilitary groups. The flags were located along the street where “marching season,” a time of annual parades by Protestants was to take place today.
The clash between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland revolves mainly around the fact that Protestant loyalists want Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom, whereas Republican Catholics desire to form a united Ireland. The Wall Street Journal also reported that in a separate incident Catholic homes were attacked by Protestant loyalists in the town of Magherafelt. Guns were shot at Catholic owned homes, however no one was injured.