Loyalist mob attacks Short Strand
Loyalist mob attacks Short Strand

Catholic homes in east Belfast’s Short Strand area and elsewhere have been attacked by over a hundred masked loyalists tonight, and several injuries have already been reported.

Mayor of Belfast Niall O Donnghaile, a Sinn Fein councillor for the area, was at the scene in the Short Strand. He said that up to a hundred masked men fully dressed in camouflage gear have been attacking nationalist homes in the area.

“It’s a tense and dangerous situation,” Mr O Donnghaile said. “They’ve hit homes with paint bombs, pipe bombs and petrol bombs.

“A pipe bomb-type device has gone off. There’s a number of Short Strand residents who are injured and a number of homes have been damaged.”

St Matthew’s chapel has also been attacked and one report of an effort being made by loyalist to set the church on fire. One man defending the church is said to have received a serious head injury.

There were also reports of loyalists from the Shankill Road in west Belfast involved in clashes at Lanark Way, near the Springfield Road. The unionist paramilitary UVF have been blamed for starting the riots.

There was little evidence of a PSNI attempt to hold the loyalist attacks, which are being linked to the traditional increase in conflict over the Protestant marching season.

The Short Strand is a tiny Catholic enclave in an overwhelmingly loyalist part of Belfast. A more intense marching-related siege in the area in 1970, known as the ‘Battle of St Matthew’s’, is considered by some to have marked the birth of the Provisional IRA.

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