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Unionist MP Nigel Dodds injured in Belfast riots as loyalists attack police over march

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Unionist MP Nigel Dodds injured in Belfast riots as loyalists attack police over march

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A unionist politician and several police officers have been injured during rioting by UK loyalists in Belfast.

The Democratic Unionist MP Nigel Dodds was knocked unconscious by an object thrown by protesters from the same side of Northern Ireland’s sectarian divide.

Earlier he had appealed for calm, but it did not stop loyalists from attacking police who were enforcing a decision by the authorities to restrict a planned march through a nationalist area.

A local newspaper report described loyalist bandsmen as “highly intoxicated” as they played sectarian tunes while rioters pelted police with bricks and bottles.

Northern Ireland’s first minister said the rioters were massively damaging the cause they support.

The politician was reportedly also hit by water cannon as he was treated on the ground before being taken to hospital.

Each July sees tension as loyalists march to celebrate the victory by William of Orange at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.

Many Catholics see the marches as provocative. Rioting by Irish nationalists in previous years led the Parades Commission to refuse permission this time for loyalists to march through a small part of the nationalist Ardoyne area.

Following the violence the protestant Orange Order suspended its protest.