North Belfast erupts
By Mick Naughton
Hundreds of masked youths placed barricades across all the major
road arteries and engaged scores of RUC and British army patrols
during some of the heaviest rioting seen in North Belfast for 20
Areas such as Ardoyne, New Lodge, and the Bone saw sustained
petrol bomb attacks leaving several armoured personel carriers
burnt out. Last Sunday night one was completely burnt out at the
top of Brompton Park in Ardoyne and later dragged away before
another suffered a similar fate on the Antrim Road. In scenes
reminiscent of the Hunger Strike period of 1981 crates of petrol
bombs were ferried up to be hurled at plastic bullet firing RUC
squads. These were forced to retreat in many areas such was the
ferocity of the attacks. In some cases whole stretches of what
once were busy roads were abandoned by the British forces unable
to contain the determined rioters.
The Oldpark area resembled a war zone with bed springs being
pressed into service as makeshift shields to protect the
nationalist youths. Hundreds of plastic bullets were fired,
roadways littered with their shell cases. Late on Sunday evening
one RUC armoured vehicle got impaled on iron pilings being used
as a barricade, its crew forced to flee as petrol bombs zeroed
in. Following intense petrol bombing the RUC and British patrols
left the streets.
`Snatch' squads, which earlier had been active, were forced to
withdraw as shots were heard. A blast bomb and a rocket propelled
grenade were also fired. Shielded from fusilades of plastic
bullets behind hijacked vehicles the youths kept up their attacks
for a three day period.
Meanwhile Sinn Fein activists attempted to stop the rioting
explaining to the young people that it suited the British to
contain the youths in their own areas and so damage their own
At meetings held in Ardoyne and the New Lodge on Tuesday evening
crowds assembled for future protests heard how many of the youth
had acted with commendable courage and restraint.
``Some of them are not angels,'' remarked one woman, ``but they are
a credit to our communities for taking on the might of the
British Army and RUC and forcing them out of our districts, just
like they did back in the early 1970s.''
On Sunday nationalist youths hijacked vehicles in different parts
of Armagh while the RUC and British army set up roadblocks on
entrances to the city centre.
Later in the evening further trouble broke out in English Street
and the RUC fired plastic bullets. Two youths were hit and
treated by local firemen before going for further medical
attention. Trouble continued into the early hours of the morning.