The fallout from the decision to force an anti-Catholic parade through Catholic north Belfast on July 12th continued this week with a series of arrests.
The PSNI police has been accused of exploiting the annual disorder in Ardoyne to intern and imprison republicans caught up in the trouble. So far there have been six arrests, all of them from the nationalist community. Four have been ordered to be remanded without bail.
The initial policing operation during the riot of last Thursday saw two arrests, one of whom was publicly stripped and beaten in the course of his detention. The PSNI is currently reported to be engaged in a ‘trawling’ operation of the greater Ardoyne area in a bid to effect further arrests.
One of those arrested in connection with the riot so far is Alan Lundy, who was a marshal of a protest by the nationalist Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (GARC). The PSNI astonished courtroom observers this week when they presented what they said was video evidence of Mr Lundy engaged in rioting -- but which actually dated from a previous Ardoyne riot, seven years ago. Mr Lundy was refused bail.
The Lundy family have issued a statement to express their belief that their “father, son and brother” Alan is a victim of political policing.
“Alan is an unrepentant republican, and does not hide his perfectly legitimate beliefs from anyone,” they said.
“He is involved in numerous republican projects such as commemorations and prisoner welfare, and also takes part in community initiatives including anti-drug projects and opposing sectarian parades.
“The two charges that Alan is facing have been brought in order to remove him from the streets, no other reason. Not because he has committed any offence, but purely to imprison him in a foolish attempt to break his belief in the republican struggle.
They said his arrest was a “further example” of the harassment that Mr Lundy has faced from the PSNI, the RUC and the British Army since his teens.
“He has been the subject of numerous stop-and-searches... over the years, and has had his home raided on a number of occasions. However, all of this only served to strengthen his resolve and determination to achieve positive change in our country, and the response of the State has been to intern him by remand to try and end the valuable work he does in our community.”
Alan’s father, also named Alan, was a republican activist, Sinn Fein member and a former political prisoner. In 1993 he was murdered by a loyalist death squad after working in the home of his friend, Sinn Fein’s Alex Maskey.
Members of the Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective held white-line protests on the Crumlin Road in condemnation of the arrest, as well as that of another Ardoyne man, Ta McWilliams. Mr McWilliams is being considered for potential internment by British Direct Ruler Owen Paterson, according to media reports.
Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has called for a meeting with the Orange Order over the organisation’s insistence on marching through Ardoyne.
He said the openly anti-Catholic organisation must open up dialogue with his party and nationalist residents opposed to Orangemen parading through their communities.
“The Orange Order needs to step forward and make their contribution to the peace process,” Mr Adams said at the weekend. “That means dialogue with residents. It also means dialogue with Sinn Fein.
“I have written to the Orange Order many times over the years seeking a meeting. I repeat that call again today. The work to prevent a repeat of this week’s violence must begin now.”
Meanwhile, the Sinn Fein Mayor of Derry Kevin Campbell has demanded an apology from the PSNI after seven hours of raids in the city on the same night of the Twelfth.
Mr Campbell’s own home was one of several pulled apart during the overnight operation by the PSNI in the nationalist Creggan area.
The Mayor called on the PSNI to return two laptop computers belonging to Derry City Council and his 10-year-old daughter as well as three mobile phones.
A former member of the Derry district policing partnership, the targeting of Mr Campbell’s home has fuelled claims that the PSNI has become increasingly hostile to Sinn Fein.
“I was in the house on my own around 10.30 on Thursday night when I heard the Land Rover doors slamming,” he said.
“I looked out and saw police coming into the house. One officer recognised me and asked if I was living there.
Mr Campbell said they wore white suits and told him they’d been sent from Upper Queen Street in Belfast for the search.
“They told me they were looking for someone. I told them there was no-one in the house but me and as Mayor of Derry my integrity was on the line.”
The PSNI remained both at the front and back of the mayor’s home until after 4am the following morning when reinforcements arrived to carry out a search of Mr Campbell’s house, before finally leaving around 5.30am.