A Ballycastle man assaulted on the Twelfth of July has said he was set upon only because he had walked across the road during a contentious parade by the anti-Catholic Orange Order.
The 21-year-old said he was kicked and struck by a gang of men who he believes recognised him as having crossed between bands half an hour earlier.
The man, who does not wish to benamed, said he had been making his way to his girlfriend’s home when he was attacked at around 5.30pm in the County Antrim town
“It was at the end of the day and they were getting on their buses to leave and they shouted abuse,” he said.
“I stopped to hear what they were saying and one of the guys came over with a flagpole and stuck it in my ribs and knocked me to the ground and they were kicking me. There were 15 to 20 of them.”
He said that 30 minutes earlier he had “walked in front of them” as he crossed a road and was “grabbed by a few people”, but PSNI men intervened.
“The police came over and pushed a few people back and I walked on,” he said. He said he believes the men who attacked him recognised him from the earlier incident.
The parade in the mixed coastal town is always contentious, but no restrictions have been placed on it for three years.
The Parades Commission wrote to the parade organisers ahead of the Twelfth, the height of the Orange Order’s marching season, stating that it was pleased its “intervention in the parade is not warranted” due to the “dignified, orderly and peaceful manner” in which it is conducted.
In related news, a US parades observer is to write to the Parades Commission asking what action will be taken over a series of parade violations by loyalist bands marching past the nationalist Short Strand in east Belfast, also on ‘the Twelfth’.
Steve McCabe of the Brehon Law Society of New York says the PSNI and Parades Commission chiefs are well aware of breaches he witnessed.
“The Parades Commission had determined that bands could only play hymns while passing Short Strand, a rather vague standard indeed,” he said.
“However, the vast majority of bands, both in the morning and the evening of the Twelfth, played loud, prohibited songs such as ‘The Billy Boys’ and ‘The Sash’ while passing the grounds of St Matthew’s chapel, thus,” quips Mr McCabe, “removing the burdensome task of interpreting just what does and does not constitute a hymn.”
Mr McCabe, who has served as an independent observer of the marching season in the North for many years, says he was also dismayed at the burning of Sinn Fein election posters on a bonfire in East Belfast.
“The PSNI and Parades Commission observers were present as the Orangemen passed St Matthew’s and observed these breaches.
“We were told that video evidence would be presented to the Public Prosecution Service for appropriate action. But of course this is nothing new and it remains to be seen what sanctions, if any, will result.”
Tensions over the marching season have also been blamed for further violence at a sectarian interface in north Belfast at the weekend.
The trouble broke out on the Oldpark Road, Manor Park and Rosapenna Street. Houses and cars were attacked with stones during the disturbances, which lasted from around 2am to 3.30am.
There are no reports of any injuries.
On July 11, an attack on the nationalist Oldpark Road was initiated by the unionist paramilitary UVF on the eve of the main day of the marching season.
DERRY MAN STABBED
A Catholic man was stabbed in a sectarian attack in Derry’s Waterside early on Monday. The men was stabbed in the face and ribs as he was walking home with a friend.
Sinn Fein’s Lynn Fleming said some people in the area appeared intent on raising sectarian tensions.
“It is important that we work towards opposing those people with a sectarian agenda and I am calling on young people to be careful and not to get involved In actions that they will later regret,” she said.
And an IRA memorial has been smashed in County Fermanagh.
A sledgehammer was used to partially destroy the structure near the County Fermanagh village of Roslea.
The seven-foot high memorial was erected in 1997 to commemorate IRA men Sean South and Feargal O’Hanlon. They were killed during a raid on Brookeborough police station on January 1 1957.
The attack at the weekend is understood to have caused thousands of pounds in damage to the granite and marble monument. Sinn Fein councillor Brian McCaffrey said two sides of the monument had been knocked down, with marble plaques of the men broken and some pillars destroyed.
“Somebody has gone at it with sledgehammers,” he said.
“From our point of view it is just people who are not willing to move forward.”