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News :: International
Culmination a Summer of Attacks on Catholic in Northern Ireland
12 Sep 2005
Belfast is mired in gridlock this afternoon, according to UTV, amid rumors…rumors of shop closings, street violence and more Loyalist riots. The disruption comes after a weekend of violence on the city’s streets.
Culmination a Summer of Attacks on Catholic in Northern Ireland - Oread Daily

Belfast is mired in gridlock this afternoon, according to UTV, amid rumors…rumors of shop closings, street violence and more Loyalist riots. The disruption comes after a weekend of violence on the city’s streets. Fears of further violence were also raised by a security alert at Harryville Primary School in Ballymena today. Pupils and residents of the nearby Casement Street were evacuated after a number of suspicious objects were discovered.

More violence rocked the city last night ending a weekend that saw some of the worst rioting in decades. The Irish Times says hundreds of loyalist, many masked paramilitaries, took to the streets and attacked local police with “petrol” bombs. The Loyalist took time to steal a mechanical digger and use it to rob a bank ATM while they were at it.

In Newtownabbey, on the outskirts of north Belfast, rioters returned to the streets to pelt police with petrol bombs. A bank in the Cloughfern Corner area was set alight. There was also trouble in the Ballyclare Road area of Glengormley.

The Police Services of Northern Ireland (PSNI) chief constable said the violence was "one of the most dangerous riot situations in the history of policing in the United Kingdom."

Sinn Féin North Belfast MLA Gerry Kelly told the Andersontown News the weekend violence was not an isolated incident or isolated day. “This was the culmination of nearly two months of sectarian attacks against Catholic churches, homes, businesses and people themselves, and after one of these paramilitary groups committed four murders. It’s no coincidence that all this activity in North Belfast in places like Hesketh Road, Ardoyne Road, Alliance Avenue and Tigers Bay, are all on the edge of loyalist areas. Throughout the course of events yesterday they attempted to draw young republicans into this conflict, and I’m glad it was resisted.”

In the wake of the loyalist violence, Northern Ireland’s Secretary of State indicated that he has started the legal process to name at least one of the loyalist groups, the UDA, as a terrorist outfit which has breached its ceasefire. The Belfast Telegraph says Hain already had the UVF under scrutiny over recent feud killings, but he seemed convinced of the need for action after watching police footage of the riots and talking to Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde this morning. The Chief Constable has already blamed the UVF and UDA for the violence. "If the evidence wasn't clear cut before, it's absolutely clear now," Hain said. Hain also said he saw footage of Orangemen attacking police, contradicting Orange Order claims that its members had not been involved in the violence.

Hain has faced repeated calls to declare a breach in the UVF ceasefire already, but has resisted taking action.

Sinn Fein News reports that Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams who was meeting with U.S. special envoy Mitchell Reiss in Belfast today on a variety of matters raised the issue of unionist violence over the weekend.

Speaking before the meeting, Adams accused Ian Paisley and Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey of giving "wrong and negative leadership". He said they could not wash their hands of what happened. Adams said responsibility for the violence "lay with comments made by the unionist leaders". He said a "concerted attempt" had been made to engulf nationalists in rioting.

"Thus far,” Adams said, “due to the discipline of nationalists and republicans, things have remained fairly calm. However, there is a concerted attempt under way to draw young nationalists and republicans into conflict at interface areas across Belfast."

In one particular incident Sinn Fein Councillor Fra McCann told Daily Ireland that as a loyalist mob approached a Catholic neighborhood along Grosvenor Road many locals feared a repeat of Bombay Street in 1969 when Catholics were burnt out of their homes by loyalists. “This mob was making threats, telling the residents that they were gong to be burnt out. They were throwing missiles, shouting sectarian abuse. They smashed a car windscreen and were doing their best to get to a statue of Our Lady that was in the garden of a house in Devonshire Street,” said Councillor McCann. It wasn’t until people heard the mob and came out of their homes and local shops to defend themselves that the crowd finally retreated back across the Westlink. “The young people of this area must be commended for their efforts in chasing this mob from the road. This was an orchestrated attack which saw loyalists clearly try to provoke nationalists into a riot situation but our appeals for calm and restraint were heard and nationalists refused to get involved.”

And what do the loyalists have to say for themselves. "This is not a peace process, this is a republican process," one young loyalist told the Guardian. "We have got the guns out now and we are not putting them away," another added. "They have got rid of everything Protestants hold dear, the UDR and the Royal Irish Regiment. The police is now filled with Taigs* [Catholics] and they treat us young Protestants as scum."

Ironic is it not that while we’ve all heard for years the demand for the IRA to lay down its weapons, little was heard about a plan of decommission of weapons for the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). Almost no one was demanding that the Ulster Defense Association (UDA) declare its war over.

The Guardian writes, “The double standard looks especially glaring given the IRA's July declaration that its armed campaign is over and that it will lay down its arms. As republicanism moves into a new phase, loyalism remains in the brutal past. Just yesterday a senior UVF source was quoted saying that, yes, his group would wind up its activities - but that it would never decommission its weapons.” Sources: Guardian, Irish Times, Sinn Fein News, Belfast Telegraph, Andersontown News, Irish Times, UTV

*Taig(s)
Taig is a derogatory term for Catholics used (mainly) by Loyalists. The origin of the word Taig is unclear, it may derive from a common firstname for Catholic boys or may be a derivation from the surname Teague. The letters 'KAT' are still painted on walls in Northern Ireland and are an acronym for 'Kill All Taigs'. Loyalist prisoners in the Maze prison had a mural in one of the 'H-blocks' which contained the wording: "Yabba-Dabba-Doo, Any Taig Will Do" implying that all Catholics were legitimate targets. Source: CAIN Web Service (Conflict Archive on the Internet)

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