Belfast Riots Enter Third Night: What Is Causing Violent Clash In Northern Ireland? [VIDEO, REPORT]

unionists are of one of various Protestant backgrounds. Nationalists are mostly of a Catholic background

By Staff Reporter on July 15, 2013 11:53 AM EDT

Belfast riots enter a third night of unrest. A loyalist protester wearing a union mask confronts the police in the Woodvale Road area of North Belfast. (Photo: Reuters)

Belfast Riots have entered its third night of violence as angry mobs in Northern Ireland toss petrol bombs, bricks, and fireworks at police. Forty-four police officers have been wounded amid the clash.

Thousands of Unionist Protestants march every summer, causing strong clashes as Northern Irish Nationalist Catholics regard the parades as provocation. The Belfast riots went out of hand Friday when a dispute over the marching route caused rioters to burn a barricade that divided the two communities.

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While a peace deal in 1998 has resolved much of the sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland, violent clashes continue to occur during the controversial annual Parades organized by the Orange Order. The parades mark the 1690 Protestant victory over a Catholic king.

Traditionally, Protestant unionists favor some form of political union between the islands of Ireland and Great Britain. However, Catholic nationalists insist Northern Ireland should join the Republic of Ireland, removing itself from the United Kingdom to officially be regarded as an independent state.

Authorities have dispatched additional reinforcements from Britain to contain the Belfast riots in the event of any more violence. Amid the dangerously escalating situation, both the government and the Protestant Orange Order made pleas for calm and order.

"It's very important that cool heads prevail in these circumstances and I hope people will obey the announcement and statement by the Orange Institution that people should desist from violence," said First Minister of Northern Ireland Peter Robinson.

In an attempt to neutralize the angry mob of the Belfast riots, authorities equipped water cannons and shot rubber bullets at the crowd. 44 police officers have been wounded over the weekend while 49 rioters have been arrested, including a delinquent, aged 10.

To learn more about the Belfast riots, be sure to watch video footage of the protests below:

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