Nationalist residents of north Belfast were attacked last night
by both loyalists and the PSNI police following a hugely
controversial march by the Protestant Orange Order.
Scores of police Land Rovers flanked the length of the road and
hundreds of riot police descended on the community to facilitate
the notorious 'Tour of the North' march.
The PSNI had been given power by the Parades Commission to
decide the route to be taken by the loyalist supporters of the
But there was shock among the local residents as the loyalists,
including known paramilitaries, were allowed to walk past
defenceless nationalist homes in Ardoyne.
March marshals were among those who attacked Catholic residents.
One woman received a broken arm after being attacked outside
her house by loyalists, while others were attacked inside their
Another family were openly threatened by a leading member of the
The PSNI turned their batons on nationalist residents attempting
to defend their community. Efforts by local politicians to
quell the growing violence proved in vain, and police brought in
water cannon as a full-scale riot developed.
Holy Cross parish priest Father Aidan Troy said he believed that
there should not be another such parade past Ardoyne until an
agreement was reached between the two communities.
"I feel deeply saddened that once again this community has been
plunged back into violence," he said.
"These kind of scenes benefit no-one and I honestly feel that
there can't be another march like this along the Crumlin Road
until some sort of agreement is brokered between both sides.
"I witnessed hand-to-hand fighting between loyalists and
residents and after that the police and residents.
"It is totally unacceptable that this community is plunged back
into this situation every summer."
Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly said the Parades Commission's decision
to allow the loyal orders and supporters to march past Ardoyne
had been "crazy" and a "recipe for disaster".
"I watched nationalist residents getting beaten by loyalist
stewards and then by the PSNI," he said.
"The PSNI then tried to arrest the nationalists after they had
been attacked by the loyalists.
"I warned the Parades Commission that it was madness to allow
two marches along the Crumlin Road but they didn't listen.
"Now when the loyalists have got up the road there is a
stand-off with nationalists because the PSNI refuse to pull
back. "This community is very angry and feels that it has been
abused yet again."
* The 'Red Hand Defenders', a cover name for the UDA, last night
warned that members of the Ardoyne residents group were
considered 'legitimate targets'.