Irish Republican News · July 27, 2004
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: Major may be sacked over Ardoyne skirmish
Major may be sacked over Ardoyne skirmish

The British Army is understood to have lost one of its most sophisticated pieces of bomb detecting equipment during rioting in north Belfast earlier this month.

After the British Paratroop Regiment forced a unionist parade through the nationalist Ardoyne area, heavy clashes broke out between furious Catholic youths and British Crown forces.

Some soldiers were overwhelmed by the intensity of the clashes, who lost several pieces of equipment -- batons, shields, but also valuable military equipment.

One state-of-the-art electronic device - used to detect and block radio waves transmitted to detonate bombs - is understood to have been removed from the back of a Land-Rover as paratroopers retreated.

The piece of equipment is reported to be a highly enhanced replacement for a device to intervene in the detonation of bombs, which British Army epxerts fear is now being examined by republicans.

The British Army operation in the Ardoyne has been ridiculed in their military circles as a highly embarrassing defeat.

“It was an utter shambles and to see members of arguably the Army’s elite infantry regiment being cowed by thugs who had stolen their batons and shields was a huge embarrassment,” one source was reported as saying.

“That commanders placed their men in that situation and lost equipment to boot was reprehensible and the Army grapevine suggests that at least one senior ranking Army officer has been retired from the field, to use the military jargon,” he added.

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein Assembly Gerry Kelly has lodged a formal complaint with the Police Ombudsman in the North, Nuala O’Loan, in relation to the actions of the PSNI police during the events in Ardoyne on 12 July.

Ms O’Loan’s office will be asked to investigate how the police handled the Orange Order march, and PSNI baton assaults which left Mr Kelly with a wrist injury.

Mr Kelly had intervened to try to prevent trouble and to protect some members of the British Army and the PSNI.

It is understood he is also considering taking legal action against the PSNI.

NEW PARADE DISPUTE

In related news, the Parades Commission has been accused of making a deal with the unionist paramilitary UDA to allow another controversial parade to go ahead in north Belfast in return for the removal of paramilitary flags.

The UDA issued a statement through the Ulster Political Research Group in which it promised to remove contentious flags within the week.

“All the flags in south-east Antrim’s area will be taken down within the next seven days as a gesture towards the Parades Commission giving permission to the Whitewell Defenders Flute Band to have their parade route on Friday night,” the statement said.

The paramilitary band will march along sections of the Antrim and Serpentine roads for the first time in what is being viewed as further triumphalist coat-trailing before nationalist residents.

Sinn Fein branded the UDA pledge “an empty gesture” which would not ease tension ahead of Friday’s parade.

© 2004 Irish Republican News