HC Deb 17 July 2001 vol 372 cc163-5W
Mr. McNamara

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assessment he has made of the cause of disturbances in Ardoyne, Belfast from 20 June; how many civilians and police were injured on each night of the disturbances; how many plastic bullets were fired; what tactics were employed by the police to defuse

names of the contractors involved and consultants retained by his Department. [3504]

Jane Kennedy

The information is set out in the table.

tensions; what public statements were made by the RUC concerning the protection of children; how many arrests have been made and what the perceived community origin and ages were of those arrested; and how many (a) alleged rioters and (b) police officers were involved in the disturbances. [1171]

Jane Kennedy

The serious public disorder in the Ardoyne area of north Belfast arose from a series of sectarian incidents that were themselves the result of the continuing sectarian tensions in this part of the city.

During the period 20–25 June 2001, 62 police officers and 11 civilians were injured. Eight plastic baton rounds were fired.

The Royal Ulster Constabulary Chief Constable, the Assistant Chief Constable for Belfast, the local police commander and other officers made almost daily statements through the media with the emphasis being on the safety of the whole community including children. These sought to make absolutely clear the damage being done to the entire community, by a minority on each side, and to urge local leaders and people of influence to try to calm the disorder. Police spoke with political representatives and community activists on both sides of the community in an effort to defuse the situation and to encourage them to use whatever influence they had to resolve the differences. The Army was deployed at interface areas and the level of police patrolling was increased to (a) provide reassurance to both sections of the community and (b) to prevent clashes between both sections of the community.

Seven persons, aged between 15 and 43 years, were arrested. Although the Royal Ulster Constabulary does not collate information on the religious or political beliefs of arrested persons, it is thought that five may be from the Protestant community and two from the Roman Catholic community.

At the height of the rioting more than 250 police officers, along with substantial military support, were involved. It is estimated that 800 persons from both communities were involved in the rioting.

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