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North Ireland Surprisingly Calm Catholic Marchers Meet No Resistance After Protestants Also Rallied Peaceably

Thousands of Catholics marched into the city center on Sunday, meeting no resistance from Protestants and bringing a surprisingly orderly weekend to a close in tense Northern Ireland.

On Saturday, a potentially explosive march by the Apprentice Boys took place without serious clashes when the Protestant fraternal order chose not to defy police barricades which kept them away from a Catholic neighborhood.

Police fired plastic bullets to disperse gasoline-bomb-throwing Catholic youths in Londonderry on Saturday night. In Dunloy, a Catholic village 35 miles east of Londonderry, police broke up a standoff Saturday night between residents and returning busloads of Apprentice Boys.

On Sunday, a standoff between Protestant marchers and Catholic protesters clogged Bellaghy, a village in the center of the British-ruled province.

But after a week of widespread violence last month that was provoked by a contested march, the few incidents this weekend were a big relief.

Sectarian tensions exploded across the province in July when police first barred, then allowed, members of another Protestant fraternal group, the Orange Order, to march through a Catholic neighborhood of Portadown.

All-party peace talks which began in June have been adjourned until next month. Sinn Fein has been excluded from the negotiations because its allies in the Irish Republican Army ended their cease-fire in February.

Since then, the IRA has detonated bombs in London and Manchester, killing two people, injuring hundreds and causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.

Tags: unrest

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