PARAS WOULD HAVE KILLED
British paratroopers came within seconds of firing live rounds
at nationalist protestors during a Protestant march in Ardoyne,
it has emerged.
British army officials have said soldiers from the Parachute
Regiment, who were engaged in hand-to-hand fighting with
nationalist rioters on Ardoyne Road in north Belfast on Monday
night, came close to opening fire.
Hundreds of unionist paramilitaries and supporters of the Orange
Order were forced through a nationalist area in apparent
contravention of a ruling by the Parades Commission.
Troops came under attack when nationalist residents learned that
they legally binding determination had been overruled.
One British army source has claimed that the troops would have
been entitled to kill.
"If a soldier feels that his life or the life of his fellow
soldiers is at risk, he has the legitimate right to use lethal
"The soldiers involved found themselves in an extremely
dangerous situation and did consider that their lives were at
"They would have been within their rights to open fire if they
had done so."
Another said: "It was an extremely violent situation and they
came very close to using baton and live rounds on the crowd."
Senior republicans, including Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly,
controversially intervened in an effort to calm the situation.
Although their actions bolstered its reputation as a
moderate nationalist party, republican hardliners have condemned
what they describe as the intervention of "counter revolutionary
elements intent on undermining resistance to British Rule".
In a statement, the 32 County Sovereignty Movement said it fully
supported the nationalist community in Ardoyne in "defending the
community against the British Army, RUC and pro-British
"It is with a degree of regret however that we note that many of
these people, instead of being praised for their actions, will
recieve a black mark against their names or worse and will no
doubt be labelled troublemakers..."
Mr Kelly defended his actions against the rioters.
"I am an elected representative. We are in a peace process. I
was there to represent residents and sometimes that means
arguing against some of them. I was there because I have certain
principles," he said.
"I believe in what I am doing, and I will continue to do it,
even if that means you end up falling out with people, maybe,
that were friends with you the day before," he said, adding: "We
managed to save lives."
The Parades Commission, which placed restrictions on the parade,
has refused to comment on the PSNI's actions.
Mr Kelly insisted that a "dirty deal was done" involving the
British government, unionist politicians, the Orange Order and
the PSNI to allow the marchers to coat-trail past Ardoyne shops.
Orangemen had claimed the Commission's remit is limited to its
own marchers and bands, and does not extend to the actions of
POLICING BOARD SLAMMED
Meanwhile, the Policing Board, which was set up as part of the
Good Friday Agreement to hold the PSNI police in the North to
account, has been accused of 'going native' in its response.
Policing Board chairman Des Rea has been strongly criticised for
saying that the PSNI was placed in a "no-win situation" during
contentious parade in north Belfast.
The statement appears to prejudge a report he himself
Professor Rea said yesterday that he had called on Hugh Orde to
give the body a full report on the policing of this year's
parades at its next meeting in September.
Gerry Kelly branded Prof Rea's comments "pathetic".
"Des Rea and his colleagues are increasingly seen as little more
than a rubber-stamping body for PSNI operations. They are
incapable of exercising effective accountability over the PSNI
because they do not have the power to do so," he said.
"The activities of the PSNI in the past week in Ardoyne and
Lurgan prove once again that the Sinn Fein assessment on
policing is the correct one."
SDLP Policing Board member Alex Attwood said: "I don't know who
Des Rea thinks he is speaking for, but it is certainly not the
SDLP members of the Policing Board and the many thousands who
support them across the north.
"He needs to stand back and see the damage that has been done by
bad government and bad policing."
Sinn Fein's Michelle Gildernew has warned that the SDLP was in
"disarray" over its stance on policing.
"The party leader tells us that the Policing Board is the
vehicle for accountability, while other senior members are
calling for the party to leave the current flawed policing
structures entirely," she said.