Nearly one hundred people, mostly police, were injured, the most serious being a journalist, during over three hours of rioting involving dozens of nationalist youths from Ardoyne.
The Continuity IRA admitted responsibility for throwing nine blast bombs at the police, six of which detonated, while the police fired 22 plastic bullets at the crowd and deployed a water cannon.
It’s understood that mainstream republicans quickly identified which members of the CIRA were responsible for the bombings and they were “chased” from the district within an hour.
Contrary to unionist claims that Orange supporters “behaved impeccably”, they gave two-fingered salutes, sang “The Sash” and shouted “Easy! Easy!” through a gap in security cordon.
The day after the riot, assistant chief constable, Duncan McCausland, told reporters, “What we saw throughout the day, from early in the morning until late in the evening, was key Sinn Fein people trying to exercise their influence as much as they possibly could to calm the situation down.”
Sinn Fein complained that the cannon were used within 45 seconds of nationalist youths throwing missiles, giving them no reasonable time to calm the situation. The police countered by saying they had a duty to protect loyalist marchers from the rocks and bottles.
Nationalists and republicans, while divided over the causes of the violence and who was responsible, are repeating appeals to the Orange Order to speak directly to the Catholic residents of the areas they want to march through.
The level of sectarian violence always associated with this time of year, meanwhile, is being ratcheted up with loyalist attacks in Belfast, Coleraine, Castlederg and elsewhere on Catholic homes.
Gregory Campbell, the DUP assemblyman for East Derry, said the Ardoyne violence could not be described as a “blip” and accused republicans of a bigoted hatred of Protestant culture.
There are “very serious repercussions”, he said, for the political talks “whenever — if ever — they take place, whether its this winter or next winter. We have to solve this parading issue as part of the overall settlement.”