Tensions at sectarian interfaces, Ballymena march

There have been outbreaks of trouble at so-called ‘peace lines’ tonight [Monday night] in both Derry and Belfast.

In Derry, local nationalist youths clashed with the PSNI in the Bogside area near the interface between nationalist Bishop Street and the loyalist Fountain estate, with reports of petrol bombs being thrown.

At Cliftonpark Avenue in north Belfast, the PSNI were criticised for ignoring loyalist missiles thrown over the wall dividing the two communities, while arresting a young girl on the nationalist side.


On Saturday night, loyalists shouted inflammatory sectarian chants at the scene of a Catholic teenager’s murder during an Orange Order march through the nationalist area of William Street in Ballymena.

Sinn Fein assembly member Daithi McKay criticised the PSNI and the Parades Commission for their handling of the large ‘Ballykeel Loyal Sons of Ulster’ parade.

Michael McIlveen -- known as Mickey-Bo -- was murdered by a loyalist mob in Ballymena in May 2006. The 15-year-old schoolboy died after being attacked by a gang wielding baseball bats.

“When the supporters turned the corner onto Broughshane Street (on Saturday) some shouted ‘F*** Mickey-Bo’.

This could have been avoided if the police had adopted a different approach to this parede,” Mr McKay said.

He has also lodged a complaint after he and a fellow Ballymena councillor were threatened by loyalists at Saturday’s parade.

He said the threats were mede toward himself and Sinn Fein councillor Monica Digney.

“The playing of ‘The Sash’ past the pubs on William Street, the singing of sectarian songs by loyalists who were standing at the Inn, the crude references by parade supporters to the death of Michael Mcllveen, the behaviour of bandsmen such as those from Ballycraigy and the threats toward our representatives all highlight one thing -- the marching of bands down William Street is motivated by bigotry and sectarianism,” he said .

“The policing operation was wrong from the very beginning as 50 to 100 supporters of the parade, many wearing Rangers shirts, were allowed to stand within yards of the Inn bar. This created a flashpoint unnecessarily, as a number of nationalists standing outside the pubs and this loyalist group shouted at each other during the entire parade.

“It also flags up an inconsistency in the policing of parades in the district as the police create a sterile zone at contentious parades.”

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