Saturday, January 19, 2013

Catholic church bombed in Belfast as sectarian tensions revive

A Catholic church in Belfast was badly damaged by homemade bombs on Monday night, as renewed tensions in Northern Ireland prompted clashes between Catholics and Protestants. 

Tensions have been rising in Belfast since early in December, when the city council voted to end the display of the British flag. 

That decision - a gesture toward Irish nationalists who seek an end to British hegemony in Northern Ireland - angered loyalists who support the British presence. 

Historically the nationalist cause has been led by Catholics, the loyalist cause by Protestants. 

Regular public protests and “flag marches” have sparked violence between Catholics and Protestants, forcing police to intervene to prevent wider rioting. 

On January 14, at least one police officer was injured in a confrontation with rioters.

Protestant rioters threw stones at police, and homemade bombs at St. Matthew’s church.

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