Riot follows attacks, football
Riot follows attacks, football

There has been rioting this evening on the Crumlin Road in north Belfast. It appears the trouble began after today’s football matches by Glasgow Rangers and Celtic ended.

A 100-strong crowd of nationalists and loyalists clashed at Twadell Avenue and the Ardoyne shops. Riot police are still at the scene and it has been reported that water cannons have been used.

Separate disturbances were reported in west Belfast.

The end of season matches saw the teams, identified with the Protestant and Catholic communities respectively, swap places in the Scottish league.

Rangers unexpectedly won the league after a last-minute collapse by Celtic in their away game at Motherwell.

The violence also follows a series of attacks on the cars and homes of Catholics in the area over the weekend.

Petrol and paint bombs were used to damage houses and vehicles at Cliftondene Crescent, the lower Ballysillan area, Ligoniel Road, Summerdale Park, and Newtonabbey.

The attacks appeared to have been co-ordinated and carried out by one of the unionist paramilitary gangs.

North Belfast Sinn Féin representative Gerry Kelly said that the attacks “follow a well worn path” on the eve of the annual Protestant marching season.

“It is clear that this latest wave of unionist intimidation has been timed to try and influence policy around forthcoming controversial parades in this area.

“We need now to hear from prominent unionist politicians in this area who are also linked to the loyal orders repudiating these attacks and working genuinely to ensure that this is not the start of another anti-Catholic campaign in North Belfast over the summer months.”

* A prominent unionist paramilitary, who fronted a UDA paramilitary press conference just hours after a Catholic murder victim was buried, was jailed for two-and-a-half years last week.

In a televised press conference Cunningham, who was masked and flanked by gunmen, called on another group of UDA paramilitaries to stand down.

The statement came just hours after the funeral of Catholic postman Daniel McColgan in 2002, carried out by members of the UDA using the cover name of the ‘Red Hand Defenders’.

Cunningham was a member of the Ulster Political Research Group and Loyalist Commission.

A police investigation was launched after the BBC’s Panorama documentary show alleged that Cunningham was the man behind the mask after comparing his voice with other recordings when he spoke on behalf of the UPRG.

On the programme a voice expert said it was “highly probable” the voice of the masked man matched that of Cunningham. Cunningham also appeared to be wearing his usual spectacles outside the balaclava.

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