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17 July 1997 Edition

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Whitewell residents attacked

While most commentators have portrayed this year's Twelfth as a quiet affair, nationalists in the Whitewell Road and Bawnmore areas of North Belfast have been on the receiving end of loyalist acid and petrol bomb attacks since Saturday night.

And residents slammed an RUC decision to allow two bus loads of loyalists bandsmen through the area on the 12th July, a move that broke the terms of a locally brokered residents agreement with Orangemen and led to the outbreak of violence that continued for two nights.

Local residents speaking to An Phoblacht said that concerted attacks were being launched by loyalists from White City area that borders Whitewell. One man stated that loyalists had initially thrown ammonia and acid bombs on the Twelfth night into the street where he lives during the worst of the violence and this was followed by ``innumerable petrol bombs being lobbed from the other side of my back garden fence at Catholic houses''.

The man stated that many houses were vulnerable to attack in the vicinity, and along with other residents he slammed the RUC for failing to take action against the loyalists.

``The RUC prevented other nationalists from coming to assist us during the attacks and at one point fired a plastic bullet at residents from where loyalists had been hiding,'' added the man, who didn't want to be named.

Another resident described how a mob of around 50 men came into peoples' gardens and broke windows for over an hour on Sunday night, while the RUC watched from nearby Gunnell Hill. Local residents are certain that loyalists are being bussed in from nearby Rathcoole.

Residents also condemned earlier RUC actions at Arthur Bridge on 5 July, when loyalists gathered to attack residents in nearby Longlands. One nationalist had his throat slashed by loyalists and was left for dead, while another resident was hit by an RUC jeep, and then battered about the head by golf club-wielding loyalists.

Elsewhere in North Belfast over the weekend two Protestants youths were slightly injured by gunfire whilst attending a 12 July bonfire sited next to the nationalist New Lodge Road.

Meanwhile North Belfast Sinn Fein councillor Mick Conlon has urged community leaders to use their influence to try to halt the sectarian attacks which have erupted throughout North Belfast since early July.

Stressing the necessity for dialogue, Conlon said, ``marching season difficulties mean cool heads and responsible leadership are required to ease tension.'' He reiterated his appeal for political and community leaders to combat sectarianism. ``Nobody gains from sectarianism, and I urge the initiation of dialogue as a matter of urgency to resolve this situation.''
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An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1
Ireland
 

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