Loyalists planned to set fire to ‘every street corner’


Loyalists planned widespread disturbances across the Six Counties in response to council threats against their bonfires, it has been revealed.

An idea to build bonfires “on every street corner” was considered before authorities in Belfast backed away from a threat to remove bonfire material there.

The ‘Grand Secretary’ of the anti-Catholic Orange Order, Mervyn Gibson (pictured), said tensions has been raised following a Belfast City Council injunction against four loyalist bonfires in Belfast, but that major disorder had been narrowly averted.

“It’s how the court order is interpreted next year that worries me, in that people will now be looking to bring this in across other parts of the province, if that happens they’ll not stop bonfires people will just move it off council property,” he said.

Gibson also warned that Orangemen remained angry at restrictions on their parades, despite the relatively peaceful marching season this year. He again called for the scrapping of the Parades Commission and for the infamous Drumcree march in Portadown to once again pass down the predominately Catholic Garvaghy Road.

“I think that Sinn Fein have moved on from parades politically, whereas we’re still there and dealing with the legacy of the Parades Commission,” he said.

Meanwhile, the issue of sectarian flags also remains a concern. Unionist flags erected in June and are still flying in mixed areas of Belfast, such as the Ormeau Road in south Belfast and now appear a permanent fixture.

South Belfast resident Dominica McGowan said there is “clear community support to remove these flags in shared spaces”.

“However, three months later and there is still no sign of these flags coming down,” she said.

She added: “The Ormeau Road area is a diverse area and we do not feel it’s fair to mark the territory with unionist flags, so we are asking for support for the flags to be removed.”

Union flags and and UVF flags were erected on lamp posts at Global Crescent and Cantrell Close - housing developments that were part of a Stormont ‘shared communities’ strategy.

In 2014, the PSNI police said that in future the flying of loyalist flags in the mixed Ormeau Road area would be treated as a “breach of the peace”.

But in later years when the flags were again erected, the PSNI said they would only remove flags if there were “substantial risks to public safety” or a criminal offence was thought to have occurred.

Loyalists also continue to fly an apartheid era South Africa flag in a County Down village in an apparent statement of racist hate. The flag is one of several put up in Moneyslane over the summer and remained up this week.

The flag, which was replaced as the flag of south Africa in 1994, was used by the apartheid regime during the years of discrimination by the white minority over the country’s black majority. Three flags contained in the centre of the banner include the Union Jack.

Sinn Fein councillor Kevin Savage last night questioned the reason for putting up the flag.

“I would like to know the rationale, what links Moneyslane has to South Africa, it seems bizarre that this was up there?” he said. “Given its past and the regime it represented in this day and age it should not have been flown anywhere in the world.”

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