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22 June 2000 Edition

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Springfield residents call for support


Residents of the Springfield Road in Belfast are bracing themselves for another weekend of intimidation and terror.

On Tuesday, a white-line picket, organised to protest against the decision of the Parades Commission to allow the Orange and Loyal Orders to walk on the nationalist section of the Springfield, was attacked.

As residents and supporters held a peaceful picket, hundreds of loyalists attempted to cross the gate between the nationalist district and the Shankill Road area of West Belfast.

The protest was clearly orchestrated and came only hours after the UDA/UFF issued a chilling statement in which it threatened to officially call off its ceasefire. The terror squad also threatened open war by shooting people dead.

Johnny Adair, the leader of the UDA, was amongst those who were leading the loyalist mob at the Lanark Way gates. He sat in a jeep, feet away from the Springfield road. Other loyalist leaders such as William Smith from the PUP and Frank McCoubrey, deputy mayor and member of the UDP, were also encouraging the crowd.

The loyalist mob remained for hours planted at the gates. They threw stones, bottles and various other missiles at the nationalist crowd that grew bigger as the word of the attack spread.

Fireworks were also set off in the direction of the crowd and the houses on the Springfield Road.

Orange march on Saturday

Residents of Colin Street, facing Lanark Way and Workman Avenue on the Springfield Road, have faced nightly attack. Such attacks include missiles such as stones, fireworks and petrol bombs.

During the night, loyalist mobs have crossed the peace line and residents have been assaulted in their own homes.

It is against this backdrop of intimidation and terror that the Parades Commission has given permission for an Orange march through the area next Saturday, 24 June.

Sinn Féin's Gerry Adams says such a decision gives support to ``triumphalism and racism, it tramples over the rights of nationalists living along a part of the Springfiel Road and is based on the false premise that there is no other practical alternative by which the parade can complete its circuit.''

Residents have already argued that there is a viable route along Woodvale Road, the Ballygomartin Road and the West Circular Road.

The commission's decision also rewards the Orange Order and their supporters for their intransigence and constant refusal to obey any restrictions placed on their parades. Last year's parade along the Springfield Road featured a blatant display of sectarianism by the UVF colour party and bands.

Undeniable evidence that the commission's restrictions had been violated has been captured on both video and photos.

The Springfield residents are calling for support on Saturday during the parade. A spokesperson said that people must rally to protest at this blatant violation of the basic rights of nationalists to live free from sectarian harassement.

``What message does the commission's decision send to the loyalist gangs who have engaged in a series of attacks on nationalists, their homes and public houses?'' he asked. ``Despite the logic and strength of our case, we are still second-class citizens in an ``Orange'' state subject to a never ending cycle of sectarian harassment and intimidation''.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1