Tensions rise over weekend on rioting and parade


SECTARIAN TENSIONS were heightened at the weekend after more disorder in east Belfast, a Parades Commission decision to permit an Orange Order parade in north Belfast, and an arson attack on the car of a DUP Assembly member who expressed delight that Tyrone were defeated in last Sunday week’s Ulster GAA championship.

Late on Friday night and into the early hours of Saturday, the PSNI were called on to deal with sectarian violence in the lower Newtownards Road area of east Belfast, close to the interface with the nationalist Short Strand, the scene of more disturbances two weeks ago.

The trouble erupted after a “mini-Twelfth of July” parade through east Belfast on Friday night. Six PSNI officers were injured, seven people were arrested and a number of vehicles damaged in the trouble.

Police moved in to deal with initial trouble between loyalists and nationalists. A larger crowd then gathered, and police were subjected to stones, bottles and other missile attacks from loyalists.

Sinn Féin and the SDLP, meanwhile, have criticised a decision by the Parades Commission to permit the annual Orange Order return feeder parade past the Ardoyne shops in north Belfast on July 12th, the scene of serious disorder several times over recent years.

Local Sinn Féin Assembly member Gerry Kelly said there was no logic to the decision as a similar parade two weeks ago was banned.

Local SDLP Nichola Mallon said it was a bad decision which was imposed in the absence of dialogue and without local agreement. “I would urge anyone who intends protesting to respect the wishes of the people and do so peacefully.”

The car belonging to DUP Assembly member Ian McCrea was burnt out outside his home in Magherafelt, Co Derry, in the early hours of yesterday morning.

Mr McCrea, son of the Rev William McCrea, is MLA for Mid-Ulster.

Last Sunday week, he triggered controversy after posting a message on Twitter in the wake of Donegal’s defeat of Tyrone in the Ulster championship. “Great to see Tyrone beat in the Ulster semis today, hope Donegal beat Londonderry in the final to keep the celebrations out of Mid Ulster.”

Mr McCrea said he was shocked and disgusted by the arson attack.

“Whilst a car can be replaced and the yard resurfaced, nothing will remove the terror of this event from the minds of my three young children who had to be lifted from their beds and taken to safety,” he said.

Saying that there must be no retaliation, he added: “I am a politician and expect to be the target of verbal criticism, but targeting my family home is outrageous and demonstrates the hatred within some elements.”