UDA fires on PSNI as campaign escalates
There are serious concerns about the continuous escalation of
sectarian violence at several North Belfast interface areas.
There is little doubt among nationalist that the UDA is behind
the trouble and this past weekend things turned decidedly more
sinister when a UDA gunman opened fire on PSNI members, wounding
The incident took place on the Limestone Road in North Belfast on
Saturday. Just before 9pm, several young nationalists from the
Newington area emerged from a shop and were struck with stones
and bricks thrown by four unionist youths. Other nationalist
youths saw this and chased the unionists back down the road
towards Tigers Bay.
As a result, unionists then sounded their "alert" siren, and
large groups of older men suddenly emerged onto the street The
ensuing stand off involved more than 150 people on both sides,
and when crown forces finally arrived and moved in, a loyalist
gunman opened fire with a shotgun.
The PSNI have called the attack "attempted murder," saying the
two officers were left "severely traumatised." They were treated
in hospital for wounds to the legs, back, and face. Four other
members of the crown forces were injured after being pelted with
bricks and one person was arrested for "riotous behaviour."
After about 40 minutes of sustained violence, an uneasy calm was
The UDA, speaking through the Ulster Political Research Group,
claimed that no loyalists had been involved in the incident.
Speaking on their behalf, Sammy Duddy stated, "I have been
speaking to senior figures in the UDA and they have assured me
their 'no gun policy' still holds."
But even the PSNI's Superintendent David Boultwood said he had
"no doubt" that the person responsible for the shooting was
connected to unionist paramilitaries. Although Boultwood has
said that at this stage he could not prove the gunman was
definitely a member of the UDA, he confirmed that the man would
face serious charges.
"Given the relatively short distance the gunman was away from
police, he must have known he could kill my officers by shooting
at them. He was at least reckless, whether he killed anyone or
Sinn Fein's Gerard Brophy has no doubt as to the involvement of
unionist paramilitaries in the ongoing trouble.
"The loyalists who are attacking these houses are not children,"
said Brophy, "they are youths between sixteen and eighteen years
of age with a sprinkling of well-known UDA figures among them."
"It is not coming from the nationalist side. Nationalists there
want to live in peace and quiet but they are not being allowed to
by the UDA in Tigers Bay."
"They must finally have turned the cameras on," one nationalist
resident said sarcastically, "because on Sunday night a few kids
from Tigers Bay started down the street towards us and the
peelers were here in seconds instead of half an hour later."
Nationalists have repeatedly maintained that nearby CCTV cameras
are not being used to stop unionist incursions or arrest
attackers, but simply to spy on Catholic residents.
When nationalist homes have come under attack in the past, the
PSNI has often claimed the cameras were not working. However the
PSNI has confirmed this week that footage from the cameras is
being examined in an effort to identify the gunman.