Skip to comments.Armed extremists 'were shooting to kill' (N. Ireland)
Posted on 09/11/2005 10:15:00 PM PDT by kingu
HUNDREDS of rioters returned to the streets of Belfast last night, hijacking cars, blocking roads and attacking police lines with petrol bombs, bottles and stones.
A blast bomb was thrown at a police station in West Belfast, but nobody was injured in that explosion.
As attacks at the New Barnsley police station grew worse, a car and van were crashed into the gates. Wheelie bins and gas cylinders were also set alight.
Elsewhere, ten people were arrested and police fired baton rounds after being targeted. One officer was injured.
The renewed violence came after the chief constable of Northern Ireland accused Protestant extremists of trying to kill his police officers.
The rioting - the worst to hit the province in a decade - began on Saturday night after a decision to restrict an Orange Order parade. Police said surveillance footage of that violence showed paramilitaries armed with automatic weapons and explosive devices and members of the Orange Order attacking police and orchestrating the violence.
More than 50 live rounds were fired at police and soldiers, who returned fire with plastic bullets. A bomb-making factory and seven firearms were seized in follow-up raids yesterday.
Water cannons were deployed, but they proved ineffective in clearing the streets. Police said 32 officers were injured, but with rioters avoiding hospitals for fear of arrest, only two civilian casualties - one with gunshot wounds, another with blast injuries - were reported.
Chief Constable Hugh Orde said it was clear that the gunmen had been firing at the security forces, and he blamed two major outlawed Protestant groups - the Ulster Defence Association and the Ulster Volunteer Force - for orchestrating what he called "completely organised" attacks. "Officers were shot at last night. We are very lucky we do not have dead officers this morning," he said yesterday.
Trouble flared after the Parades Commission decided to re-route the Whiterock Parade away from a Catholic area of west Belfast.
Police and soldiers fired at least 430 baton rounds and seven live rounds at the rioters as they tried to fend off mobs of Protestant men and teenagers in several parts of Belfast and in seven other predominantly Protestant towns and villages. Catholics were also involved, throwing stones and other objects into police lines and the Protestant crowds beyond. Cranes had to be brought in yesterday to remove burned-out cars from Belfast's streets. Caches of petrol and pipe bombs were seized and a number of live devices were defused.
More than 1,000 police officers and 1,000 soldiers were drafted in as crowds attacked them. In the most intense exchanges, masked Protestant men and youths hurled homemade grenades and petrol bombs and fired automatic guns at police and army positions about half a mile from the spot where Orangemen had been prevented from marching past a Catholic section of the Springfield Road.
Mr Orde said the Orange Order had to take the blame for much of the trouble because it had encouraged the rioters by organising sit-down protests on major roads and junctions.
"They publicly called people on to the streets. I think if you do that, you cannot then abdicate responsibility."
But the Orange Order rejected his remarks as "intemperate, inflammatory and inaccurate". It described police operations as "policing at its worst".
Calm was eventually restored to most parts of Belfast yesterday morning. But a 700-strong group of rioters returned to the streets last night after police raided homes looking for rioters. In one blatant sign of outlawed groups' involvement, masked and armed men stopped cars and checked people's licences at a checkpoint in north Belfast, a stronghold of the Ulster Volunteer Force, in a show of strength designed to mock police authority.
Two men also hijacked a bus full of passengers in Bangor, Co Down, police said. The vehicle was driven from Belfast Road to Clandeboye Road where those on board had personal belongings stolen from them before being ordered off. The bus was then driven on to Green Road, Conlig, where it was set alight.
Peter Hain, the Northern Ireland Secretary, said: "Attempted murder cannot in any way be justified. There can be no ambiguity or excuse for breaking the law."
Mr Hain, who is to meet Mr Orde today, said he expected everyone, including the Orange Order, to condemn the violence.
Sinn Fein claimed Catholics had been dragged from their cars by rioters.
Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein president, said: "There is a concerted attempt under way to draw young nationalists and republicans into conflict at interface areas across Belfast."
Alasdair McDonnell, the deputy leader of the moderate nationalist Social Democrat and Labour Party, warned that the violence had seriously damaged the political process. "The irony of the situation is that the Orange Order and loyalist paramilitaries have further damaged and seriously discredited themselves with people in Britain and, as a result, the very Union they adhere to has been weakened," he said.
But Ian Paisley, the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, accused the Parades Commission of treating marchers shamefully. "The commission treated elected representatives with contempt by its refusal to even call us to put our case. We were refused the opportunity to give greater detail," he said. "At this time, I appeal to all law-abiding people to remain calm."
Reg Empey, the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, also criticised police tactics. "I have personally witnessed women, who had been trying to prevent stoning, being pushed to the ground for no justifiable reason," he said.
Dammit, I thought we had shoot to kill now.
Hmmmm, I think I see the problem here.....
So sir, it isn't. You might take a clue what was done in New Orleans.
I feel like 99% of the time I hear about violence it's the Irish republican side that's doing it. In fact this is the first incident I've heard of "Orange" violence. Am I correct or is that a misperception?
Misperception. There's plenty of attacks on Catholics by Protestants. It's true, however, that the majority of attacks on security forces are by Catholics, and the IRA murdered far more people than any of the loyalists ever did.
Sure doesn't sound like the cease fire that has been espoused lately in the news.
Tne rioters were their own kind.
The police have always sided with the Orange against the Catholic population, now they are having to battle their own.
Could this be a reaction to Blair's (and predecessors'since Thatcher) continual appeasement of Adams & co, ignited by a parade dispute or am I attributing "depth" to something more basic ?
The IRA is not lily white, it has morphed into a highly successful criminal enterprise but it's not "PC" to say that it's still tied to good ol' peaceful Sinn Fein, cuddly Gerry et al.
The British should leave Ireland, all of it, resettling their Crown's pawns in Dover for instance, if only as partial payment for their genocide policy during The Famine.
Everybody knows the guns were all taken up in England!(/sarcasm)
"the IRA murdered far more people than any of the loyalists ever did"
I guess that's what we would expect to hear from a English Nationalist....
Thanks for this spectacularly ignorant remark! Try reading some background information before posting in future.
I think this is part of the "Endgame" situation that seems to exist now in Northern Ireland. These are the actions of marginalised extremists. They are present on both sides of what is/was the divide. Belfast is a great city again, with much being contributed by all sides to its new found prosperity. Im sure the people of Northern Ireland will not allow this to become their daily way of life again.
Well, so long as you disregard the single largest atrocity of the troubles:
Although you are right about who was responsible for the most deaths:
"The bare facts are that of the 3, 285 deaths in the conflict from July 1969 to December 1993, Republicans have killed 1,928, Loyalists 911, British forces 357, Irish Republic forces have killed 3 and "others" [deaths impossible to link to a military group] 86. Of these, 3,059 occurred in N. Ireland, 91 in the South, 118 in Britain and 17 in continental Europe."
If you want to turn the clock back to the 17th century then I suppose its only fair that the Indians get to have America back "if only as partial payment for their genocide policy".
I'm sure we would be more than happy to accomodate the Ammirican Irish community, whether in Dover or on the Shankill Road.
Just like the good old days.
No, thank you for pointing out how ignorant you are! You don't understand sarcasm? What an idjit! I usually get jumped on for mispelled words, like "idgit", from the FR police.
Unfortunately it would appear that most people in the Republic don't want the 6 Counties.
Would you after last night?
"I'm sure we would be more than happy to accomodate the Ammirican Irish community, whether in Dover or on the Shankill Road."
No thanks. I would not look good in a running suit and soccer is not a good wagering sport.
But the balaclava helmet might be fetching ;)
Many unionist leaders have "abdicated responsibility" for weekend violence, President George Bush's special envoy to Northern Ireland has said.
Mitchell Reiss said leadership was needed but "in the last few days we haven't seen very much of it".
DUP leader Ian Paisley denied prompting riots by saying the parade re-routing "could be the spark which kindles a fire there would be no putting out".
Mr Paisley condemned the violence but said his prediction had come true.
"I was telling the truth, I said I was very very worried," he said on Monday.
"At that time I was in the midst of trying to get a way whereby this would not happen. And it has happened - my words have been proved to be right."
Two nights of violence began on Saturday when a controversial Protestant Orange Order march was re-routed away from the mainly Catholic Springfield Road area of west Belfast.
After a request by unionists on Friday, the Parades Commission reviewed its ruling on the route, but decided not to change it.
In a BBC interview, Mr Reiss said there was "absolutely no excuse" for the trouble.
What you really need is leadership, and unfortunately in the last few days, we haven't seen very much of it
US special envoy to NI
"I think all of us are pretty disappointed with the abdication of responsibility by many unionist political leaders," he said.
"No political party, and certainly no responsible political leadership, deserves to serve in a government unless it cooperates and supports fully and unconditionally the police, and calls on its supporters to do so.
"It's true for unionism, it's true for all political parties, and I think that this was not the finest moment for politics in Northern Ireland over the weekend."
The US Envoy said problems needed to be tackled by sustained hard work in communities.
"What you really need is leadership, and unfortunately in the last few days, we haven't seen very much of it," he said.
However, he singled out Ulster Unionist Belfast councillor Fred Cobain for praise for the work he had done over the weekend and in the past weeks.
"When people do stand up and take a courageous stand and exert leadership, they deserve to be recognised," he said.
Absolutely agree. When there are terrorist incidents committed by Muslims we demand that the Muslim community speak out against it, it is equally appropriate for the Orange Order and the Unionist community to condemn and identify those responsible for these terrorist incidents.
My family left the Troubles over 200 years ago.
OK, firstly NI is not a colony of the UK- it is an integral part the country with it's own MPs in Westminster just as Ireland was before it became the Free State. Indeed, it is actually better represented then us poor buggers in England as the province has it's own devolved assembly which is more then we can claim.
"The Indians have their own nations, self governing bodies on the reserved lands of their ancestors."
By the same token, it could be said the Irish have the Republic. Now of course you could argue, as you do, that all Ireland should be Irish, despite the fact that the majority of the population of the North would prefer to remain within the UK- but then in that case would you agree that the Indian tribes should recieve the full lands their ancestors once owned?
At the end of the day, the British government's position since 1949 is that Northern Ireland will remain part of the UK unless this status is rejected by the majority of the population. The last time there was a vote on the issue (1973) it was heavily defeated, partly because of the fact that the nationalists boycotted the vote, something I've always regarded as pointlessly delf-defeating unless they knew they couldn't win. Do you honestly think our government would hold on to Northern Ireland if the vast majority of the population wanted to be part of the Republic, and voted accordingly? Frankly, I imagine many would love to be shot of the place, and many more in Eire proper would be shaking their heads at the poisoned chalice they'd been handed.
Personally, I don't give a toss about the place- if the people of NI want to remain part of the UK then bully for them, and if not then they can join the Republic or go it along or anything else they fancy, as long as they don't come crying to us afterwards.
You have hit the nail on the head. The Irish government is more than happy to let the UK deal with the raving nutters in NI and most people in the Republic don't give a toss about the place either. Both the Irish and British governments, along with most of their constituents, would love to see NI towed out to the middle of the Atlantic and sunk. Good luck convincing the Irish Americans of that though. Why they think that the nutters will suddenly decide to get along with each other if the Tricolour is flying over Belfast City Hall instead of the Union Jack mystifies me.
I'll tell you what, how about this as a compromise- The referrendum on the status of NI should be made by everyone involved- the population of the province, the Irish people, and the British. That way us on the mainland can vote for a united Ireland and lump Eire with the godforsaken place whether they like it or not! ;)
Seriously though, my objection to that idea is that is that many in NI don't consider themselves Irish, per se- they consider themselves British. A referrendum in the Republic as well would in the eyes of many concede the status of the north before the vote even began. I wouldn't be wholly surprised if a vote ever takes place that the population of Eire vote on whether to accept Ulster- and that would be an interesting referrendum.