Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Police hurt in violence around parades

Police hurt in violence around parades

GERRY MORIARTY and DAN KEENAN - Tue, Jul 13, 2010 – The Irish Times

THERE WAS serious violence over the Twelfth of July period, with dozens of police officers injured during disturbances in Belfast.

The trouble flared through Sunday night, yesterday and last night. On Sunday night, three officers suffered gunshot wounds after a masked man fired at them. Disturbances in west and north Belfast on Sunday night raised what were already high tensions over last night’s return feeder Orange Order parade past the Ardoyne shops.

There was also trouble in Lurgan yesterday evening involving masked nationalist rioters who attempted to hijack the Belfast to Dublin Enterprise train and set it alight. They boarded the train at about 5pm, but the driver managed to regain control and continue the journey.

Police mounted a huge security operation last night as Orange Order marchers prepared to make their return journey past the north Belfast flashpoint. At 5pm, some 80 nationalists blocked the Crumlin Road in north Belfast in an attempt to prevent the return Orange parade. Many of them wore white T-shirts stating “Peaceful Protest” and some carried posters saying: “We are residents not dissidents.” They were members of the Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective, which opposes Sinn Féin and is viewed as sympathetic to dissidents.

They accused the Crumlin/Ardoyne Residents Association, which Sinn Féin supports, of being “ineffective” in failing to prevent the return Orange Order feeder parade past the Ardoyne shops. Throughout the evening, police removed protesters until, at 8.20pm, the remaining demonstrators left of their own accord. There were a number of blast and petrol bombs and other missiles fired at the police lines during sporadic violence throughout the night.

Eventually at 8.40pm, the Orangemen and loyalist supporters were paraded past the Ardoyne shops with shield-bearing police trying to protect them from missiles. The parade was completed in less than three minutes.

Police officers crouched down behind landrovers and warned people to get back, amid concerns of possible blast bombs or sniper attacks.

Meanwhile, a police officer remained in hospital last night after he and two of his colleagues were shot during trouble at North Queen Street in north Belfast on Sunday night. They were wounded when a masked man reportedly emerged from a nationalist crowd and fired a shotgun. None of the officers sustained life-threatening injuries, according to the PSNI. One hospitalised officer suffered pellet wounds to his arms and upper torso.

Police said 14 officers were injured in violence in the New Lodge area of north Belfast, while 13 were injured when confronted by about 200 nationalist youths close to the Broadway roundabout on Donegall Road in west Belfast.

Police used a water cannon at Broadway and fired plastic bullets. Police were pelted with petrol bombs, bottles, bricks and stones.

The trouble on Sunday erupted as police formed lines to separate nationalists on the Donegall Road from hundreds of loyalists attending a traditional Eleventh Night bonfire in the Village area of Belfast.

PSNI Chief Supt Mark Hamilton said those involved were intent on “causing mayhem and destruction” and his officers put themselves in danger in trying to bring calm to the area.

The North’s Minister for Justice David Ford said it was “clear that there is a small minority of people who want to create havoc and do whatever they can to raise tensions and heighten fears within the community. I would urge those who have influence to show leadership and do whatever they can to bring calm to the streets.”

Police are also investigating how seven people, including two children, were injured when they were struck by a car during an Eleventh Night bonfire on the Donegall Road in south Belfast on Sunday night.


If this is an example of Orange Order culture and tradition, the peace loving people of Northeast Ireland could do very well without it. It is becoming clearer with each passing year that instead of getting better they appear to be getting worse. Perhaps it is time for the Parades Commission or whoever has authority over them to consider a total ban on these contentious parades. That seems to be the only plausible way to end this annual season of rioting and mayhem.

Jack Meehan, Past National President

Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

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