The Two-Way
11:34 am
Wed June 22, 2011

'Ulster Volunteer Force' Blamed For Starting Belfast Violence

Two nights in a row of riots in Belfast, Northern Ireland, — the most intense such violence in several years — are largely being blamed by authorities on members of the Ulster Volunteer Force, The Guardian and other news outlets report.

As the BBC's Mark Simpson puts it, "there is a loyalist pro-British paramilitary faction called the UVF who seem to want to cause a lot of trouble at the moment."

Still, according to The Irish Times last night "dissident republicans [in other words, the "other side"] were responsible for the gun shots which wounded a press photographer during serious rioting involving up to 400 people in east Belfast last night, police said."

Because the violence comes around the time of traditional — and provocative — parades by pro-British, protestant marchers through Catholic neighborhoods, it would be logical to think that the rioting is a return to the type of troubles that long plagued Belfast. But, check this passage in the Irish Times' report:

"The sudden upsurge in violence is being described as the worst the city has seen in years and loyalist community workers blamed simmering tensions at the notorious sectarian interface. But other observers blamed rivalries inside the UVF, fuelled by anger at restrictions placed on contentious parades, plus the efforts of police to investigate crimes from the Troubles as part of an ongoing review of cases by the Historical Enquiries Team."

The Associated Press says that during the "two nights of rioting ... hundreds of masked youths hurl bricks, bottles and gasoline bombs and left three people with gunshot wounds." It has also filed this video report.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.