Riots marred the peace in Northern Ireland and caused multiple injuries to police as the climax of the Orange marching season was again marked by violent disturbances.

Twenty-two police officers were injured in nights of rioting as loyalist and republican mobs used petrol bombs and other missiles, though none was seriously hurt.

Police resources were stretched because disorder broke out in more than half a dozen locations in the Belfast area. Officers brought 60 new armoured Land Rovers into service, fired plastic bullets and deployed a water cannon.

In recent weeks, rioters have driven hijacked vehicles, sometimes on fire, toward police lines.

Few arrests have been made since the police approach is usually to hold rioters at bay. Instead of using "snatch-squad" tactics, which carry the risk of inflaming the situation, police generally prefer to bring charges at a later date, often relying on closed-circuit television evidence. But rioters have increasingly worn woollen balaclavas to avoid being identified.

Sections of extremists, loyalist and republican, need little excuse to start rioting and are generally eager for trouble. This is the case almost irrespective of the prevailing political atmosphere, so disorder on some scale almost always breaks out in July.

Dissident republican groups who indulge in full-scale terrorism send their members to flashpoints where they encourage local youths, who are often involved in petty crime, to take on the police.

- Independent