Irish Republican News · June 25, 2004
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
PSNI look on as loyalists attack motorists

The PSNI police last night ignored unionists who blockaded both ends of a main road in west Belfast and intimidated motorists.

One driver, who did wish to be named, said he became blocked in after he had been diverted by the PSNI away from another protest at the Whiterock Orange Hall.

The man, who did not want to be named, said his vehicle became trapped by the blockades on the Springmartin Road.

“They asked me where I was from and I said, ‘what has it got to do with you?’

“I then reversed and went into the Springfield barracks and told the police that the road was blocked, but the police said ‘what do you want us to do?’

“I asked for the gate through the barracks to be opened but they refused. At this stage a mob of 60 or 70 was blocking the road, lots of fellas around our cars and the police didn’t come out to help. It was a terrifying experience.

“It was pretty nerve wracking and the attitude of the police that they wouldn’t come and stand with us didn’t help.

“In a car behind me there were children in it, so I am sure they were scared.”

Other residents complained of coming under attack from the protestors. These attacks ranged from verbal abuse to an attempt to drag a woman from her car.

The blockades were set up in protest at a decision by the Parades Commission to ban tomorrow’s Orange Order Parade from a stretch of the Springfield Road. That decision has since been reversed.

West Belfast Sinn Féin councillor Tom Hartley said the PSNI had to bear a large portion of the blame.

“They have been directing cars away from the protest towards Ballygomartin. These cars have subsequently been attacked.

“Such attacks are completely unacceptable. I would call upon those within the unionist community to work to bring these attacks, and the threat of attacks, to an end’.”

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© 2004 Irish Republican News