Irish Republican News · July 12, 2004
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Bonfire mayhem

The bonfires which mark the eve of the July 12th marches by the Protestant Orange Order is traditionally a focus for violence and this year was no exception.

In a night when nationalists generally stay indoors in fear of their lives, masked gunmen representing two rival gangs, the Ulster Defense Association and the Ulster Volunteer Force, fired handguns and sub-machineguns into the air.

“We are better prepared now than at any time in the past,’’ one masked UDA man declared.

“It’s still no surrender to the enemies of Ulster, no matter where they may be.”

Many of the ‘Eleventh Night’ bonfires included Irish tricolour flags and Sinn Féin election posters in a mountain of combustible material.

There were a series of violent incidents across the North involving the bonfires, with most linked to local disputes among unionist paramilitaries and the consumption of alcohol.

In east Belfast, two men fired a number of shots into the air. According to reports, a car pulled up and the passenger tried to fire a handgun at a group of people. After the weapon jammed, the driver then fired a number of rounds into the air before driving off.

In west Belfast, a youth was seriously injured when he was stabbed at a bonfire.

There were also major disturbances involving clashes between loyalists and PSNI police in Randalstown, County Antrim and Limavady and Kilrea, both in County Derry.

This year saw some bonfires constructed and set ablaze on major roads and interchanges.

In North Belfast, two bonfires were constructed on the Crumlin Road, prompting a complaint from Sinn Féin.

“We already know that the twelfth bonfires cause serious air pollution. It is not good enough that they are also allowed to destroy the local infrastructure,” said local councillor Eoin O’Broin.

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© 2004 Irish Republican News