Irish Republican News · July 3, 2009
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: SF marshals at Whiterock parade
SF marshals at Whiterock parade
whiterockmarchkids.jpg

A coat-trailing sectarian parade by the Protestant Orange Order was delayed on Saturday while British Army bomb disposal experts removed a number of suspicious devices.

It had been feared the controversial march through the republican Springfield Road area of west Belfast could again become a source of serious conflict.

Although Sinn Féin Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness recently warned his supporters might no longer “stretch” themselves, dozens of republican marshals nevertheless helped to facilitate the parade.

The Parades Commission had controversially ruled that 50 members of Whiterock Orange Order could walk the most contested section of the route.

PSNI police also flanked the marchers as they emerged from the security gate at Workman Avenue, forming a phalanx between them and nationalist protesters. Water-cannon and riot squadrons were on hand but were not deployed.

Several hundred residents had gathered on the Springfield Road but stayed back and protested peacefully as the parade passed.

However, a caller claiming to be from a little known group calling itself the ‘Nationalist Defenders’ claimed that four pipe bombs had been left at various locations .

The devices were later declared “elaborate hoaxes”.

Several children also scaled the Springfield Road “peace wall” -- a large barrier dividing the communities -- and waved an Irish tricolour.

DUP North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds condemned what he said was “the ugly face of republican fascism”.

“I believe the PSNI should have been more proactive in preventing this behaviour which went on for over half an hour and should also have done more earlier to ensure the disruption to the parade was prevented.

Speaking afterwards Springfield residents’ spokesman Sean Murray said that while he was pleased the march had passed without major incident, the long-term issue of loyalist parades needed to be addressed.

“There needs to be a proper resolution to this. Communities on both sides of the Springfield Road shouldn’t have to endure this annually,” he said.

ATTACKS

Across the North, there have been a rash of sectarian attacks linked to the marching season tensions.

The home of a Catholic woman has been attacked by a 20-strong mob in a largely Protestant area of Derry.

The windows of the house on Aubrey Street in the Fountain estate were broken in Tuesday night’s attack.

The woman was in the house at the time but was not injured.

In Lurgan, two young Catholic boys were left badly shaken after being attacked by a mob of loyalists in a sectarian assault in Lurgan.

The victims, who are both 13, were targeted last Wednesday as they walked home from Lurgan Park by a group of up to 15 males, but were not badly beaten.

However, a young Catholic teenager from Ardoyne was seriously injured by four loyalist thugs who emerged from a car on the Upper Crumlin Road.

The gang used baseball bats to attack the youth in an unprovoked attack not far from the Ardoyne shops.

VIOLENCE FLAGGED

There had been fears that loyalists were deliberately stoking stoke up tensions ahead of the most difficult marching season. In particular previous agreements over flags in contested areas were reneged upon.

Over the past two weeks hundreds of flags have been placed in predominantly nationalist areas of south Belfast.

The Ormeau Road and Finaghy crossroads areas are both covered with loyalist flags.

At Fortwilliam in north Belfast, which backs onto the loyalist Mount Vernon estate, Union, Ulster and UVF flags have appeared in recent days.

Shots were fired at a house in Ballymena following an argument over the erection of flags in a mixed housing development.

And last week there was further violence in Coleraine after loyalists sought to place flags close to the nationalist area where father-of-four Kevin McDaid was murdered on May 24.

A subsequent Orange Order parade passed off peacefully after the majority of the parade stawed away from Mr McDaid’s home. There was no protest after an appeal by Mr McDaid’s widow, Evelyn.

“We are a family drawn from the Protestant and Catholic communities,” she said.

“We have been raised to respect all traditions within our community and would appeal for dignity and calm at this difficult time.”

Organisers had agreed that only a small number of its members would pass near the house and that no supporters would accompany the parade on the west bank of the River Bann.

However, Sinn Féin Coleraine councillor Billy Leonard said “a couple of hundred supporters” had crossed the river.

EAST BELFAST

Loyalists waved unionist paramilitary flags near the nationalist Short Strand during the course of the “mini-twelfth” march in East Belfast on Wednesday.

The march took place quietly, with a small nationalist protest also taking place.

However, there were minor skirmishes in Belfast city centre later on Wednesday night after a group of loyalists returning to the Shankill clashed with nationalist youths in the Carrick Hill area.

“The onus remains on the Parades Commission to acknowledge that there is no logical argument for this particular parade to pass the Short Strand area,” said Sinn Féin’s east Belfast Representative Niall O Donnghaile.

“It is now time that we moved towards full and final closure regarding the small number of contentious parades in this part of the city.”

© 2009 Irish Republican News