Orange Order CEO appeals for calm following night of violence in the North

The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service received 327 emergency calls by 1am this morning

Orange Order CEO appeals for calm following night of violence in the North

Police in east Belfast after a judge ordered a controversial bonfire to be reduced in size, 11-07-2018. Image: Rebecca Black/PA Wire/PA Images

Emergency services dealt with a night of violence across the North last night ahead of today's annual 12th of July celebrations.

A bus was hijacked and set on fire by masked men in County Down. There were passengers on board at the time, but no one was injured.

Meanwhile, police in Belfast discovered a viable pipe bomb, following reports of an explosion.

The main northern political parties have issued a joint appeal for calm as the PSNI urge community leaders to discourage any illegal activity.

Other security alerts prompted the closure of roads, with one stopping passengers leaving Belfast City Airport.

Police in Derry were also targeted with petrol bombs and other missiles.

Derry-based journalist Leona O’Neill told Newstalk Breakfast that PSNI sources issued a warning that the UDF (Ulster Defence Force) planned to cause “serious disorder in east Belfast” after police moved in to clear a contentious bonfire site in the area.

Iain Carlisle, the chief executive of the Orange Order, has appealed for an end to the violence.

“The vast majority of those are out of the control of the institution,” he said.

“These are things that are led by the community; led by youth – effectively they are not within our remit.

“We would appeal to everyone to be responsible and to act within the law and work in the interests of the entire community.”

The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service said it had received 327 emergency calls by 1am this morning.

Officers attended 164 incidents – 57 of which were bonfire related. It also dealt with three attacks on its appliances.

The annual demonstrations commemorate King William of Orange’s victory over King James II at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.