NATIONALISTS COME UNDER ATTACK AS MARCH TENSIONS MOUNT
Concerns are growing within the nationalist community that there are
elements within unionism intent on raising tensions in the run-up to
the marching season by the Protestant 'Loyal Orders'.
The Clandeboye area of the Short Strand in east Belfast came under
sustained attack from stone-throwing loyalists in last night.
East Belfast Sinn Fein councillor Joe O'Donnell said the attacks
continued for four hours after attempts to end the attack through
contacts with interface workers came to no avail.
"While there has been a period of relative calm it is extremely
worrying that this attack took place last night coming only weeks
after loyalists made threats of violence in relation to parades in
"It would appear that there are elements within loyalism who are
on raising tensions in the run-up to the marching season. This must
not be allowed to happen and I would appeal to this with influence
within the Unionist community to work to bring an end to such
Meanwhile, hammer-wielding unionist paramilitaries were able to mount
sectarian attack yesterday just yards from a north Belfast PSNI base
and in full view of closed-circuit television cameras.
A Catholic man's car was destroyed in the early morning attack in
Torrens Gardens. The deafening noise woke the entire street, but PSNI
members did not arrive until twenty minutes later.
"The attack really frightened a lot of people in the street, and
resident actually thought there were guns being fired," the man said.
"But when I asked the police if they had seen anything they told
they hadn't at the time, which I find farcical as the station is
supposed to be manned 24 hours a day and have lord knows how many
cameras outside. I just don't understand it."
Tha attack is just one of many cases of nationalists being targeted by
loyalists in the area, and took place just two days after trouble
flared in the same area on the night of the sectarian 'Tour of the
North' parade by the Protestant Orange Order.
A number of shots were fired from the loyalist Tigers Bay area across
an interface, while bottles and stones were also thrown.
There was also violence at Ardoyne in north Belfast in the wake of a
parade by two Orange Order lodges along the Crumlin Road at around
8.45pm on Friday.
Trouble broke out as police attempted to escort Protestant supporters
of the march up the road after the parade. Bottles and stones were
hurled by loyalists standing at nearby Twadell Avenue. The road was
then blocked by nationalist residents.
Nationalists blamed the police for creating the situation.
North Belfast priest Father Aidan Troy said he had seen "a few plastic
bottles" thrown by nationalists but there had been no real provocation.
"It was obvious that the police policed the march but didn't police
people. The loyalists seemed readily equipped with bottles and stones.
It was an uneasy situation which turned quite serious," he said.
Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly said police had not fulfilled their dut-ies as
laid out by the Parades Commission by letting supporters follow on
after the march.
"This was totally in breach of the parades commission ruling... when
was told this I said I would go and speak to the residents. While I was
doing this the PSNI forced the march through," he said.
A feeder parade also contravened Parade Commission guidelines after two
bands continued playing as they passed St Patrick's Church on Donegall
Street where Mass was being celebrated.
In related news, Antrim Sinn Fein Councillor Martin Meehan today said
that he was in no doubt that a haul of pipe bombs discovered in a
disused school in Antrim was the property of unionist paramilitaries.
" Over the past number of years there have been numerous pipe bomb
attacks in this area and families have been forced from their homes by
loyalists," he said. "This find is particularly worrying given
fact that we are now in the run in to the marching season."