Political tensions have increased in Belfast with an increased number of incidents at sectarian interfaces ahead of the marching season.
The DUP claimed the tension was being orchestrated by “dissident” republicans groups, who are believed to have grown stronger in the city in recent months.
“There have a been a number of incidents at the top of the Crumlin Road in the last week with this petrol-bomb attack being the most serious to date,” said the DUP’s Nelson McCausland.
Following an attack at Clifton Street Orange Hall and the spate of hijackings and bomb scares last week, he said “this is a very worrying time.”
The shops at Ardoyne are a major flashpoint between nationalist residents and the Protestant Orange Order, who hold two provocative parades through the area in June and July.
A report in the London Observer newspaper claimed the Provisional IRA had “lost control” in the strongly republican Ardoyne community and that trouble could break out over the marching season.
However, north Belfast interface worker Joe Marley said he was not expecting trouble. He believes recent “low-level” attacks were not orchestrated or the work of dissidents.
“We have 3,000 teenagers in Ardoyne and what you are talking about here is a handful of those who are involved in this kind of activity.”
Dissidents are also reported to have gained significant support in West Belfast and have issued threats against criminals in the area.
In particular, the self-styled Divis Hoods Liberation Army has been warned their lives are in danger.
The gang is notorious for criminal and anti-social activity and is centred in the Divis flats area in west of the city.
Details emerged when a 16-year-old youth and alleged gang member, charged with going equipped for theft and threats to damage property, applied for bail.
Crown counsel opposed his bid to be released on bail, claiming it was safer for him to remain detained.
The judge was told that PSNI believe the threat from Oglaigh na hEireann is “viable”.
A man was injured last [Thursday] night in a suspected punishment shooting by dissidents in Ardyone.
Sinn Féin junior minister appealed condemned the attack, which left the man requiring surgery.
“I want to condemn this incident outright, those responsible for this attack are not representative of this community in any way, they have no support and they offer our people nothing but further distress in the time ahead,” he said.
“This young man has been left critically injured and it is clear that this was an attempt to take this young person’s life.
“The people of Ardoyne and wider north Belfast have suffered enough, in particularly our young people.”