Immigrants flee Portadown violence

 

Several immigrant families fled a Catholic area of Portadown when loyalist rioters tried to attack nationalist homes during the night, Sinn Féin said today.

"Around 100 loyalists attacked police who prevented them attacking nationalist homes," said Sinn Féin assembly member John O'Dowd said.

The families from East Timor ran from their homes in Co Armagh town, when the area was engulfed in violence, he said.

"They packed their bags, so distressed were they at the violence. Their neighbours tried to reassure them that they would be safe in their homes but they left," he added.

For several hours police were attacked by people armed with petrol bombs, bricks, bottles, fireworks and other missiles in the latest violence surrounding the high point of the loyalist marching season.

The police fired around 20 plastic bullets and arrested three people.

The Mayor of the local Craigavon council, Democratic Unionist Alan Carson, condemned the violence.

"This does not do anyone any good. People have a right to live peacefully and feel safe in their own homes. The violence we saw last night is something we assigned to the history books," he said.

A significant number of families from East Timor have settled in Portadown, where they work in the food packing industry alongside many Poles and Portuguese.

In recent days nearly 50 police have been wounded and dozens have been arrested during violence in both loyalist and republican areas surrounding the annual July 12th parades.