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20 July 2006 Edition

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Republicans work to ensure peace at Twelfth flashpoints

Republicans work to ensure peace at Twelfth flashpoints

BY PEADAR Ó FAOLÁIN

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has praised nationalist residents and republican activists for their work in keeping flashpoint areas peaceful around 12 July.

Adams revealed that Sinn Féin was in contact with unionist representatives and Protestant churchmen in an effort to ensure calm.

Sinn Féin spokesperson for Policing, Gerry Kelly spoke to the PSNI in North Belfast before Orangemen passed through Ardoyne, "to ensure that the violent scenes of last year when the PSNI and British troops attacked local residents were not repeated".

Adams accused the DUP and its leader Ian Paisley of playing no positive role in efforts to ensure peace.

Senior republicans, supported by up to 700 stewards, were on hand at other contentious marches. Martin McGuinness was in Maghera, Philip McGuigan in Dunloy, Pat Doherty in Castlderg and John O'Dowd was in Lurgan.

Ardoyne

At Ardoyne, the scene of serious trouble over the last number of years, as Orange marches were forced through the nationalist area, relative calm prevailed.

Tension had been high with residents unsure if the Orange Order would adhere to a Parades Commission ruling that parade followers would not march past Ardoyne but be bussed up the Crumlin Road. Loyalist spokesperson Tommy Cheevers warned that Orange supporters would refuse to get on buses.

In the end, as republicans stewarded protesters at Ardoyne shops, four buses carrying Orange supporters sped up Crumlin Road with a PSNI escort.

Minutes later the main Orange Parade arrived. Flanked by PSNI in riot gear the lodges were accompanied by at least two UVF affiliated bands.

Despite the presence of the republican stewards some missiles were thrown but no one was injured.

Joe Marley of the Aroyne Parades Dialogue group praised nationalists for their restraint and said their efforts to keep things calm proved "the community is serious about solving the issues".

Widespread loyalist attacks

Despite the efforts of those involved in keeping the peace at flashpoint areas during Twelfth parades it was business as usual for unionist sectarian gangs across the North. Widespread sectarian attacks saw Catholics, from Derry to Belfast, targeted.

In Derry 29-year-old Paul McCauley, and two friends, were set upon by a unionist gang on Sunday morning 16 July. They kicked McCauley severely about the head as he lay prone, fracturing his skull. Witnesses say the attackers left McCauley for dead before making their escape towards the unionist Irish Street estate.

According to the Derryman's father Paul the family was told that Paul died twice after the attack and had to be resuscitated.

As An Phoblacht goes to press McCauley remains in a critical condition in the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.

Other attacks, carried out in some cases by the UDA, began in the run up to the Twelfth.

  • On Saturday 8 July up to 30 UDA members invaded the Bridge Bar in Belfast city centre and beat up a doorman. The gang issued threats to staff and warned them about employing, "Fenian doormen".
  • Kerbstones in front of St Mary's church near Kilrea, County Derry were painted red, white and blue days before the Twelfth.
  • A wheelie bin was thrown through the window of a house in Craigwell Avenue, Portadown at 3am on Tuesday 11 July.
  • On the Twelfth morning a 24-year-old man was assaulted by Orange parade followers on the Whitewell Road, North Belfast. At lunch time a nine-year-old boy was splattered with paint.
  • Rasharkin, County Antrim. A young Catholic was attacked. PSNI members who witnessed the incident took no action.
  • Leading loyalist Mark Harbinson and other bandsmen marched past the rear of houses in a majority Catholic estate, in Stoneyford, County Antrim. The Parades Commission had barred a march through the estate on the Twelfth
  • Catholics in Randalstown, County Antrim faced sustained harassment from loyalists over the Twelfth period. Notices were circulated on the 11th warning Catholic-owned premises to close for the Twelfth. Loyalists, including a DUP councillor erected bunting and flags in a mainly nationalist area of the town.
  • Orangemen and their hangers on took over the town, urinating on cars and in the gardens of Catholic owned homes. Residents who confronted the Orangemen were threatened.
  • A 22-year-old mother of two suffered knife injuries after a gang attacked her in the garden of her home in County Armagh on Friday 14 July.
  • At 1am on Thursday 13, a man was assaulted by a unionist gang near Derry's Fountain Estate.
  • A 15-year-old Castlederg, County Tyrone youth was attacked by two known loyalists on 15 July. He was treated in Altnagelvin Hospital for facial injuries
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