Attacks on PSNI during republican parade
TENSIONS REMAINED high in north Belfast last night after disturbances in Ardoyne during a parade organised by a local republican residents group.
Petrol bombs, bricks, stones and bottles were hurled at PSNI officers in riot gear, who responded with water cannon. A number of police officers were injured. Local republicans and loyalists also fired missiles at each other during the parade by the Greater Ardoyne Residents’ Collective (GARC).
However, what was expected to be the most troublesome element of the annual Twelfth of July Orange Order celebrations earlier passed off peacefully after a decision by north Belfast Orangemen to observe a Parades Commission ruling to complete the homeward part of their march past Ardoyne shops by 4pm.
Virtually the sole focus for potential trouble during the Twelfth marches was on Ardoyne, as has been the case in recent years. But overall the Twelfth of July concluded peacefully and successfully with thousands of Orangemen, hundreds of bands, and thousands more supporters participating in 18 main parades throughout Northern Ireland.
Members of the Crumlin and Ardoyne Residents Association (CARA), which is supported by Sinn Féin, staged a peaceful protest along the Crumlin Road as the Orangemen paraded by.
The Ligoniel Orangemen were bussed from the field – where Orange marchers gathered after the outward part of the main Belfast parade – to begin their return route on the Woodvale Road a short distance from Ardoyne, so that they would meet the 4pm deadline.
The parade comprised just 15 Orangemen, who were flanked by PSNI officers in riot gear and carrying shields. Normally dozens of Orangemen would parade. It took just five minutes for the contentious element of the march to be concluded. When they passed by the flashpoint the lodge members were greeted by hundreds of cheering loyalists farther up the Crumlin Road.
The decision by the north Belfast lodges to observe the Parades Commission 4pm return deadline in turn put pressure on GARC, viewed as sympathetic to dissident republicans, to ensure that its demonstration scheduled for between 5.30-6.30 pm was peaceful.
The concern around this parade was exacerbated by the fact that loyalist residents from Twaddell Avenue and Woodvale Road were staging a protest against the GARC demonstration.
At around 6.20 pm about 700 nationalists marched on to the Crumlin Road. When they came alongside the loyalist protesters there was an exchange of missiles between the two groups.
For a brief period it appeared that a full scale riot would erupt but police managed to push the republican marchers into Brompton Park. Republican marshals also assisted in getting the republicans off the Crumlin Road.
About 20 nationalists continued to fire missiles at police lines from Brompton Park last night.