BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) — Northern Ireland’s police chief has vowed to arrest scores of Protestant extremists after they attacked officers protecting a parade by Irish Republican Army supporters.
Police said 56 officers were injured as they confronted Protestant mobs blocking Friday night’s parade. Protestant politicians said security officials should never have authorized the march. Police ultimately diverted it from downtown Belfast because of the street fighting.
Chief Constable Matt Baggott told a Belfast news conference Saturday that Northern Ireland’s prison population would soon be “bulging” as detectives used video footage to identify rioters.
Baggott accused the Protestants, who used torn-up street pavements and construction scaffolds as weapons, of “mindless anarchy and sheer thuggery.”
Northern Ireland faces a tense weekend as both Irish Catholics and British Protestants mount more divisive parades Saturday and Sunday.