Ardoyne residents targeted by UDA, PSNI

Nationalist residents of north Belfast were attacked last night by both loyalists and the PSNI police following a hugely controversial march by the Protestant Orange Order.

Scores of police Land Rovers flanked the length of the road and hundreds of riot police descended on the community to facilitate the notorious ‘Tour of the North’ march.

The PSNI had been given power by the Parades Commission to decide the route to be taken by the loyalist supporters of the contentious parade.

But there was shock among the local residents as the loyalists, including known paramilitaries, were allowed to walk past defenceless nationalist homes in Ardoyne.

March marshals were among those who attacked Catholic residents. One woman received a broken arm after being attacked outside her house by loyalists, while others were attacked inside their own home.

Another family were openly threatened by a leading member of the Orange Order.

The PSNI turned their batons on nationalist residents attempting to defend their community. Efforts by local politicians to quell the growing violence proved in vain, and police brought in water cannon as a full-scale riot developed.

Holy Cross parish priest Father Aidan Troy said he believed that there should not be another such parade past Ardoyne until an agreement was reached between the two communities.

“I feel deeply saddened that once again this community has been plunged back into violence,” he said.

“These kind of scenes benefit no-one and I honestly feel that there can’t be another march like this along the Crumlin Road until some sort of agreement is brokered between both sides.

“I witnessed hand-to-hand fighting between loyalists and residents and after that the police and residents.

“It is totally unacceptable that this community is plunged back into this situation every summer.”

Sinn Féin’s Gerry Kelly said the Parades Commission’s decision to allow the loyal orders and supporters to march past Ardoyne had been “crazy” and a “recipe for disaster”.

“I watched nationalist residents getting beaten by loyalist stewards and then by the PSNI,” he said.

“The PSNI then tried to arrest the nationalists after they had been attacked by the loyalists.

“I warned the Parades Commission that it was madness to allow two marches along the Crumlin Road but they didn’t listen.

“Now when the loyalists have got up the road there is a stand-off with nationalists because the PSNI refuse to pull back. “This community is very angry and feels that it has been abused yet again.”

* The ‘Red Hand Defenders’, a cover name for the UDA, last night warned that members of the Ardoyne residents group were considered ‘legitimate targets’.

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© 2005 Irish Republican News