Irish Republican News · July 16, 2005
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]

The Continuity IRA has claimed responsibility for a blast bomb attack on British forces amid rioting in north Belfast on Tuesday.

Serious clashes erupted in Ardoyne after a parade by the anti-Catholic Orange Order was forced through three nationalist communities by a large deployment of British Army and PSNI police.

Sinn Féin officials had urged only peaceful protests against the parade -- but the hardliners were clearly seeking to take over the mantle of armed struggle from the Provisional IRA in the ‘cockpit’ of the conflict.

Trouble flared when the Orange parade and hundreds of its supporters were pushed past the nationalist Ardoyne district. Two leading members of the unionist paramilitary UVF were among the supporters which preceded the parade on its return leg.

Several people, including two teenagers, were injured after the PSNI opened fire on nationalist rioters and bystanders with plastic bullets.

Blast bombs, petrol bombs, bricks and stones were thrown at the PSNI after nationalists opposed to the Orange march were forced into side streets. Two journalists and a PSNI man were injured by the blast bombs.

A CIRA spokesman said the devices were only used in response to the PSNI use of potentially lethal plastic bullets. The PSNI has admitted firing 22 plastic bullets on protestors after water-cannon failed to clear the parade route.

The CIRA spokesman said their men were armed but had refrained from opening fire.

“We had three Active Service Units in Ardoyne on Tuesday night, mostly comprising Volunteers from north Belfast,” he said.

“There was about 15 men in all and each ASU was armed.

“When the PSNI started firing plastic bullets at residents we considered returning fire.

“We abandoned the idea because we were fearful that many people could be injured. Instead, we decided to use blast bombs on the PSNI.”

The CIRA spokesman also denied PSNI claims that their men were pulling out of Ardoyne when they came under attack. He said: “They were firing plastic bullets at residents when we attacked them.”

A Provisional IRA spokesman said they chased away the Continuity IRA team.

Sinn Féin representative in north Belfast, Gerry Kelly, said that local people were angry at the actions of the hardliners.

“They’re not from the IRA. They’re not supported by the IRA. The vast majority of people are very angry about these attacks. Whoever did it, they’re not welcome.”

Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams, who, with party colleagues, got a dousing from the water cannon, said the violence could have been much worse.

“The fact is that the vast majority of people have demonstrated peacefully and in a calm manner,” he said.

The West Belfast MP blamed the PSNI for the trouble.

“When the police moved in, in what I think was quite a reckless manner, they took management completely away from the stewards.

“They brought the water cannon in too quickly. We should have been allowed to keep order,” he insisted.

* Two devices found in County Down and Armagh in the past two days have also been linked to republican hardliners.

Police and a number of media outlets received an emailed bomb warning yesterday. E-mail is an unusual way to deliver warnings, which are mostly delivered by telephone.

The e-mail, from a Hotmail account, listed 17 bombs allegedly placed around Armagh, Tyrone and Down. It referred to the continued detention of North Belfast republican Sean Kelly, a Provisional IRA Volunteer recently returned to jail despite being released as part of the peace process.

The statement also claimed responsibility for a device that had been found on the railway line between Lisburn and Moira on the Twelfth of July. However, only one other device was found, on the Armagh to Monaghan Road.

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© 2005 Irish Republican News