Nine at special court sitting over riots (UTV)

Nine people have appeared before a special sitting of Belfast Magistrates Court charged in connection with two nights of rioting in the city.

It comes in the wake of further trouble in the Woodvale area of north Belfast, during which seven officers were injured as loyalists pelted police lines with petrol bombs, fireworks and masonry for five hours.

First Minister Peter Robinson appeal for calm.

“It’s very important that this violence stops,” the DUP leader said, following Saturday’s disturbances.

The PSNI warned anyone who gets involved in serious disorder that they will face a judge within hours of their arrest.

A statement said: “Eleven people were arrested last night, with a further two arrested today following another night of serious rioting in the Woodvale area.

“Special court sittings will be used for as long as is necessary to deal promptly with any charges related to ongoing public disorder.”

Officers were attacked with petrol bombs, fireworks, masonry, laser pens and a range of weapons and missiles in north Belfast on Saturday.

None of the seven who were injured required hospital treatment and all of them stayed on duty.

The PSNI used water cannon and fired 10 baton rounds to quell the trouble, which started at 8.30pm and continued until around 1.30am on Sunday.

There was also isolated violence in Rosapenna Street, which police said followed reports that a number of petrol bombs had been thrown and in North Queen Street, following further reports that youths had attempted to block the road with burning pallets.

Police say loyalist and nationalist youths were involved in the incidents.

A total of 11 people were arrested.

Justice Minister David Ford said anyone accused of involvement in the past few days of trouble can expect to find themselves before special courts before long.

He added: “While the violence of last evening was not on the scale of Friday, I wish to make it clear that anyone intent on rioting will be dealt with speedily by the courts.

“Sunday courts are in operation and I would warn those intent on engaging in violence on our streets to think through the consequences of their actions.

“To young people in particular I would say this: Do you want to leave home today with a clean record and by tonight have a criminal record, which could have consequences which will stay with you for the rest of your life?”

Gerry Kelly of Sinn Féin said the violence needs to “deescalate” and talks must resume.

He continued: “It’s bad but it’s important to say it was a decrease from the night before. What we need to do now is deescalate, we need to deal with the violence and get it stopped, then we need to return to the talks. They started too late but at least it was face to face.”

Saturday’s violence followed the trouble which erupted in north and east Belfast on Friday night after Twelfth of July parades and protests.

My message is clear – do not get involved in rioting on our streets, but if you choose to do so then be prepared to face the courts within hours

David Ford
Thirty-two police were hurt during six hours of rioting.

North Belfast DUP MP Nigel Dodds, who is also a member of the Orange Order, was hit on the head by an object thrown by loyalists at police and had to be taken to hospital by ambulance.

He was later discharged.

Rioting broke out on the Twelfth after the PSNI prevented a loyalist march from passing the Ardoyne shop fronts, in accordance with a Parades Commission ruling.

Orange Order leaders had called for protests but have since suspended that call.

PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott, who drafted in 400 extra officers from Great Britain on Saturday, called the violence “shameful” and criticised the leaders of the order.

“Some of the leadership within the Orange Order need to reflect upon whether they provided the responsible leadership asked for by myself and by the party leaders,” he said.

“Some of their language was emotive and having called thousands of people to protest they had no plan and no control and I think the word for that is reckless. Not to have a plan, not to have control compromised the safety of many people.”

There were already 600 mutual aid officers from England, Scotland and Wales on the streets to bring police numbers to 4,000 ahead of the Twelfth.

More than 30 arrests have been made since Friday and police expect more to come.

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