Police slam N Irish govt on riots, 82 officers hurt | world | Hindustan Times
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Police slam N Irish govt on riots, 82 officers hurt

world Updated: Jul 13, 2010 20:29 IST

One of Northern Ireland's most senior police officers criticised the province's government on Tuesday for not doing enough to control violence as fresh tallies showed 82 officers had been injured since the weekend.

On Monday, nationalists attacked police with petrol bombs and other missiles during parades by the pro-British Orange Order. The unrest followed violence on Sunday night in which three police officers were shot and wounded.

Assistant Chief Constable Alistair Finlay said the power-sharing administration of the pro-British Democratic Unionist Party and nationalist Sinn Fein must do more to prevent the violence and liaise closer with police.

"There are individual politicians working very hard on this," Finlay told a BBC radio programme. "But are we seeing the joined up government?"

He said First Minister Peter Robinson -- who is from the DUP -- and Sinn Fein's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness must "show they have a plan to meet this type of issue the next time it comes round rather than waiting until it inevitably comes next year."

Violence almost invariably occurs on the sidelines of summer parades by Protestants, but this year was the first since Belfast took control of Northern Ireland's policing and justice matters from London.

The devolution deal was one of the biggest steps since a 1998 accord ended decades of violence between predominantly Catholic Nationalist groups who want a united Ireland and mainly Protestant unionists who want Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom.

However, nationalist splinter groups have stepped up attacks on the police and British army in the past year and police said dissidents had also fomented some of the latest violence.

A junior minister said Finlay's comments about the government's inaction were "untrue and unfair" and that the first and deputy first ministers had set up a committee to examine new ways of handling the parades.

"The assistant chief constable should have phoned up the two ministers and said we need to talk," said Gerry Kelly, a member of Sinn Fein who works in the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister.

The Northern Ireland Policing Board, an independent watchdog, said 82 officers had been injured in the last two days, including 55 on Monday night alone.

Chief Constable Matt Baggott said some people had been involved in "recreational rioting".

"Children as young as eight, nine and ten were involved as well as teenagers and adults," Baggott told a news conference where he released footage of young people attacking police with metal bars and planks as they tried to clear a path for the Orange Order's march.