Irish Republican News · April 26, 2004
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Loyalist bandsmen run riot

Loyalist bandsmen returning from Saturday’s Love Ulster rally ran riot in Portadown, County Armagh.

The PSNI said six of its members had been injured in violence triggered by the riots on the streets of Dublin that afternoon.

Loyalist bandsmen attacked taxi ranks owned by Catholic drivers in a town synonymous with sectarian tension. The ran riot in the centre of Portadown firing stones, bottles and bricks at the PSNI, taxis and nationalists. The rioting was concentrated in the High Street and Edward Street areas.

“It seems that bandsmen returning from the march chose to make their way and attack taxi drivers who are known to be Catholic. It was a disgraceful act,” said Sinn Féin councillor, Brian McKeown.

“A loyalist crowd attacked people leaving two Catholic-owned premises in Woodhouse Street. Several people were assaulted and beaten by the mob, and a number of others were struck by bottles and other missiles thrown by the attackers.

The loyalist crowd, which included several loyalist bandsmen who had earlier been in Dublin at the Love Ulster rally, is believed to have emerged from premises in the town centre where a loyalist function was being held.

At one stage, a policewoman was dragged to the ground by a group of men, who kicked and punched her repeatedly.

The PSNI said another officer had suffered serious facial injuries in a suspected hammer attack. Two men were later arrested.

A number of Catholic-owned vehicles were also subjected to attack.

SDLP Upper Bann, assembly member Dolores Kelly said the violence was “completely unacceptable”.

“Those responsible are thugs of the lowest type,” she said.

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© 2004 Irish Republican News