RIOT police swamped a banned loyalist parade on Saturday morning in pouring rain
Up to 200 cops in jeeps placed a ring of steel around the Ardoyne shops interface where more than 100 Orangemen wanted to march. The Orangemen saw this as a parade of ‘unfinished business’. They were banned by the Parades Commission from marching what they believe is their ‘traditional route’ past the Ardoyne interface last Twelfth of July. Rioting erupted then. But there was a stark contrast to that at breakfast time on Saturday. The Orangemen, and their supporters – about 200 – marched up to police lines, played a few tunes, and then, drenched, they dispersed. On Saturday night, the organisers of the protest parade, who were joined by about a score of supporters from the nearby Twaddell ‘Human Rights’ camp, pictured above, denied that the parade in pouring rain was a ‘damp squib’. There have been several applications from bands to complete the march, which was due to go past a nationalist area, but all were turned down by the Parades Commission after violent clashes last summer. At 9am on Saturday morning, bands made their way to the heavily policed lines. Scores of riot squad jeeps were lined up around the flashpoint Ardoyne roundabout and in streets nearby. But the bandsmen left the flashpoint at around 9.20am, long before the Parades Commission deadline of 10am for them to leave.
With many thanks to: Jamie McDowell, Sunday World.
A 45-year-old man has been arrested in connection with a gun attack on police earlier this month. High-profile republicans Alex McCrory and Harry Fitzsimmons have already been charged in connection with the attack in North Belfast on December 5, in which a convoy of police vehicles came under aautomatic gunfire on Crumlin Road.
The man was last night being held at Antrim Serious Crime Suite. Properties were also searched in Ardoyne in North Belfast yesterday by police investigating dissident republican activity. Meanwhile, police are contnuing to question two teenagers arrested in South Armagh. The 19-year-old man and 18-year-old woman were arrested at a house just outside Forkhill on Wednsday. Items incuding a grinder and a quainty of fertiliser and suger have been taken away for examination. A 43-year-old man arrested by gardai in Dundalk, Co Louth, as part of the same operation, was still being questioned at Drogheda station. It was reported yesterday that gardai and the PSNI/RUC may have foiled a dissident republican plan to launch a massive bomb attack on the North. According to security sources, the attack was planned for Belfast.
With many thanks to: The Irish News.
- Unprecedented level of spying used against dissident trio accused of police murder plot. (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
- Standing room only as accused appear (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
- Up to 15 shots fired at police patrol (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
- Dissident gun attacks ‘not linked’ says police (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
- Top dissident republicans taken off the streets (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
- Platform used by gunmen to shoot at police convoy (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
THREE of the most high-profile republicans in the North of Ireland appearing in court together was always going to attract a huge amount of attention and it was standing room only in court 10 at Belfast’s Laganside complex on Tuesday.
Co Armagh man Colin Duffy was joined in the dock by Harry Fitzsimmons, only recently released from Maghaberry Gaol after serving a sentence for abducting Bobby Tohill in 2004, along with Alec McCrory, a long-serving IRA prisoner and ‘blanket man’. The trio face a series of charges including involvement in a dissident Republican gun attack on police vehicles in North Belfast earlier this month. A Kalashnikov-style weapon was recovered during a follow-up search of the Ardoyne area following the shooting on December 5. The public gallery was packed to capacity with family members and supporters. Several loyalists charged in connection with July 12 violence appeared nervous as charges were put to them with such a large republican audience looking on. Recognisable faces among the supporters were Coalisland man Kevin Barry Murphy, North Belfast republican Brendan Conway and independent councillor Angela Nelson. Dressed casually when brought up from the court’s holding cells to the dock, the three accused remained impassive throughout the short hearing. They refused to stand while charges were read out and refused to answer when they were put to them. A detective said he could connect the accused to the offences. The men’s solicitors said they would not be applying for bail at this time. The hearing lasted less than five minutes, and as the three were taken back into custody supporters in the public gallery clapped and cheered. Magistrate Fiona Bagnall ordered the court be cleared. There was a heavy police presence outside the courthouse as the three were taken from the court to Maghaberry Gaol in a blacked-out prison van.
With many thanks to: Allison Morris, The Irish News
Arguably the most recognisable face of anti-agreement republicanism, the Co Armagh man was acquitted in January 2012 of the murder of two British soldiers at Massereene army base in Co Antrim in 2009, having served a lengthy period on remand. In 1993 he was convicted of the PIRA murder of UDA man John Lyness but was acquitted on appeal. The 47-year-old was also detained followng the IRA murders of constable David Johnson and John Graham in Lurgan in June 1997, shortly before the second IRA ceasefire but the charges were dropped due to insufficient evidence. In November last year he was arrested by detectives investigating the murder of prison officer David Black but was released without charge. His most recent arrest was in May of this year when he was qustioned about dissident republican activity before being released unconditionally. Once the most senior member of Shame Fein in the Lurgan area the hard line republican left the party prior to the decision to endorse policing. He was briefly a member of eirigi, but left the party shortly before his arrest for the Massereene attack.
The West Belfast man served two periods of imprisonment for the Provisional IRA. He was one of the youngest prisoners to join the blanket protest after being jailed in 1978 at the age of 17. He was imprisoned for a second time in the 1980s and served 14 years for possession of a bomb. In 2011 he was the first person in the North of Ireland to make an offcial complaint to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal over what he claimed were repeated attempts by MI5 to recruit him as an agent. More recently he has acted as a spokesman for republican prisoners held in Maghaberry.
HE was released from prison in May of this year after serving a jail term for the abduction of dissident Bobby Tohill in 2004 from a Belfast city centre bar. Tohill was rescued by police who rammed the van he was being carried in, he later refused to give evidence against his abductors. The event nearly jeopardized the Peace Process as the Provos were on ceasefire at the time. Fitzsimmons and his co accused went on the run in 2006 while awaiting sentencing, he was extradited to the North after being arrested in Dundalk in November 2009. While in Maghaberry he spent most of his sentence on protest against the prison regime. He was arrested last month and questioned about the murder of drug dealer Kevin Kearney but was released without charge. Since being released he had been living in North Belfast, however, after receiving death threats his address was given on Tuesday as of ‘no fixed abode’.
British Internment alive and ongoing in the 32 Counties of Ireland !!!
THREE of the North’s most senior dissident republicans have been taken off the streets after a second Belfast city centre attack. With a manhunt under way on both sides of the border for a firebomber injured by his own device, the three dissident chiefs were charged on Tuesday with an array of serious offences.
Colin Duffy, Alec McCrory and Harry Fitzsimmons all have a history of republican activism dating back to the Provisional IRA. Dissident republicans have been particularly active in the run-up to Christmas with shots fired at police in North and West Belfast, a bomb left in an entertainment area of the city on one of the busiest nights of the year and an attempt on Monday to firebomb a city centre shop. The trio, in their forties and fifties, were arrested on Sunday, 48 hours after a bomb exploded in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter while it was packed with Christmas parties. Duffy is accused of IRA membership and plotting to murder security-force members. McCrory and Fitzimmons are charged with attempting to murder police officers travelling on Crumlin Road in North Belfast on December 5. All three are also charged with conspiracy to possess firearms and explosives with intent to endanger life and belonging to a proscribed organisation. McCrory and Fitzisimmons face further charges of aiding and abetting the possession of a firearm. The alleged offences cover a period between January 1 and December 16 this year.
Amid heavy security at Belfast Magistrates Court, supporters of the three accused packed the public gallery on Tuesday. At one stage the defendents declined to stand up as some of the charges were put to them. A detective said he could connect them to the charges and no applications for bail were made during the short hearing. The trio waved at friends who clapped as they were remanded in custody to appear again by videolink in four weeks’ time. Meanwhile, two arrests were made outside the court complex as tensions heightened briefly. There were minor scuffles amid a heavy police presence at the Oxford Street exit as supporters of Duffy, McCrory and Fitzimmions left the building. North Belfast men Daniel Lundy and Aidan Fergusion, both from Ardoyne, were arrested and taken to Musgrave Police Station and charged with assaulting police, disorderly behaviour and resisting police. They were released on bail to appear before Belfast Magistrates Court on January 13.
With many thanks to: The Irish News.
- Three Charged Over North Belfast Murder Bid on Police (belfastdaily.co.uk)
- Ardoyne gun attack: Lucky escape for police after dissidents open fire on police convoy in north Belfast (belfasttelegraph.co.uk)
- Dissident Republicans cause havoc in Belfast as bomb explodes in restaurant quarter (irishcentral.com)
- Video: Police consider releasing CCTV image of dissident republican Belfast city centre bomb suspect (belfasttelegraph.co.uk)
Senior officers were targets of ONH device
THE rebel IRA were trying to murder cops with a fireball bomb carried into Belfast city centre on Friday night. The sports bag bomb, packed with inflammable material according to police on Saturday, was abandoned short of its target, according to our sources.
Sources in Belfast’s Ardoyne, where the incendiary device originated, say the bomb, which partially exploded, was meant to mimic the IRA fire bomb attack on the La Mon House Hotel in February 1978 which murdered 12 people. The Sunday World learned on Saturday that a posse of top police officers – up to a dozen strong, were out for their Christmas ‘do’ just 100 metres from where the lethal firebomb in a Slazenger sports bag was left.
One source said: “They got an emergency call just minutes before a squad of police rushed in to evacuate the whole of the St Anne’s Square pub/restaurant area in the heart of Cathedral Quarter, packed with pre-Christmas party revellers. “They immediately left the premises. But they were the targets. The dissident bombers knew who they were, and where they were.” In fact, the explosive sports bag was abandoned just 100 metres from where the police officers were sitting down for a meal and a drink. On Saturday, the PSNI staged a hastily convened press conference where it was stated that the bomb which partially exploded could have killed anyone nearby. Dissident republican group, Oglaigh na hEireann, later said they were responsible. Police said the explosion at Exchange Street West at about a quarter to seven on Friday night could have caused multiple deaths. The bomb went off as the area was being cleared. No-one was injured in the attack. Police said the bomb was fully functional and consisted of explosives and flammable liquid. It was in a sports bag and was left on a street about 150 metres away from the spot identified in a warning call made to a newspaper office. That was also just round the corner from where the off-duty police officers were having their Christmas party.
Even when they evacuated the restaurant they were in, they would have walked straight into the abandoned bomb. About 1,000 people were affected by the alert in Cathedral Quarter, which is one of the main entertainment venues in Belfast. On Saturday First Minister Peter Robinson said this was an “attack on democracy”. “We are witnessing the work of a mindless minority who are intent on taking the heart out of the city and wreaking havoc on the lives and businesses of the people of Belfast and Northern Ireland,” he said. Deputy First Minister (J116) Martin McGuinness (The Fisherman) said the bombers showed “a complete disregard for life”. “Their actions have done nothing to move our society forward but, instead, have caused distress to local residents, disruption to Christmas revellers and loss of revenue for surrounding businesses,” he said. At Saturday’s Press conference at the PSNI’s Brooklyn HQ in Belfast, Detective Chief Inspector Justyn Galloway said: “This device was fully functional. It could have injured or killed members of the public and it has similarities to previous devices used by dissident republicans. “I would like to make a direct appeal to people who were in the area on Friday night and ask them did they see a male wearing a black hoidie carrying a black Slazenger bag in and around 6pm. “If they saw this person or anybody acting suspiciously I would appeal to them to come forward to detectives. “We are working very hard to keep Belfast safe and we will continue to do that but we need the community to be vigilant. We want them to go about their normal businness and support the premises in the town but be vigilant and if they see anything suspicious in the town don’t hesitate to lift the phone and tell us.” On Saturday and Saturday night it was ‘business as usual’ in Cathedral Quarter.
Dermot and Catherine Regan, owners of the Potted Hen restaurant close to the scene of the eexplosion said they were grateful for public support. “Thankfully no one was injured and there was no physical damage to the area. We are back to normal service from lunchtime on Sunday and will be contacting everyone who had booked for last night and whose evening entertainment was ruined,” they said. And Storming Shame Fein Sports and Culture Minister Caral Ni Chilin certainly voted with her feet. She visited the Cathedral Quarter in an unofficial capacity on Saturday evening, had a drink in a bar there, and when asked if she was giving a vote of confidence to the area after the Friday night bomb fright, said: “That’s why I’m here.”
- Bomb explosion in Belfast as Christmas revellers evacuated from city centre (theguardian.com)
- Belfast City Centre Bomb Fully Exploded, Say Police (belfastdaily.co.uk)
- PSNI hunt man after Belfast explosion (irishtimes.com)
- Video: Police hunt suspect over dissident republican Belfast city centre bomb (belfasttelegraph.co.uk)
- Dissident republicans claim responsibility for Belfast bomb (upi.com)
LOYALIST (half wit) flags protester Willie Frazer completed his ‘charity bed push’ yesterday – without a bed. The victims’ campaigner was joined by about 20 people as they walked through North Belfast.
Mr Frazer plans to hold illegal parades without notifying the Parades Commission. He says he has been left with no choice. The 53-year-old, who faces charges in relation to flag protests, wanted to raise funds for victims to travel to Libya as part of a legal case over the former regime’s support for the IRA. However, the commission noted that no street collection permit had been applied for by the organiser and it would therefore be illegal for money to be collected along the route. The commission banned the walk from passing Ardoyne. Instead it stopped at Hesketh Road. Police attended to ensure that the event obeyed the ruling. Mr Frazer said the bed push had been turned into a political event by the commission. “It was an opportunity for them to deal with a charity event in the right way but they didn’t do that and that’s why we didn’t bring the bed – we’ll do that when we do our walk properly,” he said. “Their mindset is that if you’re a Protestant and you have a cause, they will defy you. “We’re not going to give any more pre-warnings. There’s no point. We’re just going to turn up in places where it will be controversial.
- Willie Frazer seeks legal advice over ‘bed push’ plans (newsletter.co.uk)
- Commission Puts Brakes on Frazer Bed Push in Belfast (belfastdaily.co.uk)
- Loyalist campaigner Frazer arrested (bbc.co.uk)
- Flag protester Willie Frazer will dress as Abu Hamza for court date (belfasttelegraph.co.uk)
- Video: Willie Frazer and Ruth Patterson at loyalist march (newsletter.co.uk)
A FLUTE band played music outside a Catholic church in “a concerted act of defiance” at parading restrictions, a court heard on Monday. Fists were pumped in the air as Pride of Ardoyne passed St Patrick’s Church in Donegall Street, North Belfast, prosecutors claimed.
A judge was told of the alleged demeanor and behaviour of some as two drummers denied a charge of knowingly flouting a condition imposed by the Parades Commission. Co Down man Thomas Beresford, was sentenced to three months for the offence during last year’s Ulster Covenant centenary parade. On Mr Michael Cosby and Richard Dunn insisted they were unaware that only a single drum beat was to be played on the contentious stretch of their route along Donegal Street. Eyesight and reading limitations formed part of the defence case. Their case, in which the verdict was reserved, comes less than a week after a bandsman was jailed for flouting a Parades Commission determination by playing sectarian tunes while passing St Matthew’s Catholic Church in East Belfast. Mr Cosby (51) of Wheatfield Drive, and Mr Dunn (26) from Alliance Road – both in Belfast – are jointly accused of failing to comply with the determination in August last year. The alleged breach occured as their band made its way into the city centre during the Royal Black Institution parade. Belfast Magistrates Court heard police had put signs along the route and on Land Rovers warning of the restriction.
The band appeared to be playing The Dambusters tune as it passed the Catholic church. CCTV footage of the incident also showed protesters holding a banner stating: “Respect St Patrick’s Church”. John O’Neill QC, prosecuting, argued that band members should have realised from the signs and conter-demonstration that it was not an ordinary situation. Dealing with the demeanour of some of those in and following Pride of Ardoyne, he said: “There are fists being pumped in the air and there are shouts at the crowd. “The prosecution suggest this isn’t a band innocently and accidentally playing music they shouldn’t. “Rather, it’s a concerted act of defiance.” He acknowledged, however, that neither defendant was seen pumping their fists. Both men insisted they were never told of the single drumbeat condition and spotted no notifications. Mr Cosby, a bass drummer who has been in the band for 35 years, told the court he only had vision in one eye. “I just didn’t see the signs,” he said. “I wasn’t told on the day about the determination.” Mr Dunn, a side drummer who joined Pride of Ardoyne 21 years ago, was just as adamant. As part of his defence he said his focus was on his two children parading directly in front of him. His limited reading abilities were also cited. “I can read but not great. The wife helps the kids with homeworks,” he said. Keith Gamble, defending, argued that neither of his clients had a case to answer. “It should be for the prosecution to prove that the defendant knowingly failed to comply,” he said. “It’s not enough to say we put signs up and they should have seen the signs.” However, District Judge Amanda Henderson refused the defence attempt to have the case thrown out. She will study the CCTV footage again before giving her verdict later this month.
With thanks to: The Irish News.
Parades body criticised over lack of restrictions!
NATIONALISTS have accused a loyalist band of playing “sectarian” music during an Apprentice Boys parade past a North Belfast flashpoint. Carrick Hill residents said The Sash and Derry’s Walls were played as bandmen passed the nationalist district on Saturday evening.
They also said that minutes earlier the band played music while passing nearby St Patrick‘s Church on Donegall Street as Apprentice Boys made their way home from the annual Lundy parade in Derry. Nationalist residents were critical of the Parades Commission after it failed to restrict the playing of music in the area. In the past loyalst bands have played sectarian music as they passed both the church and Carrick Hill. Locals last night said that up to 50 Apprentice Boys and one band passed St Patrick’s as parishioners were making their way into church for Mass. Carrick Hill Concerned Residents’ Group spokesman Frank Dempsey critiicised the Parades Commission for not placing restrictions. “The Parades Commission sent a band down here knowing well Mass was on and they put no restrictions on the music,” he said. Police last night confirmed that an 18-year-old man was arrested for disorderly behaviour and resisting police at Cliftion Street during the parade and later charged. He is expected to appear at Belfast Magistrates Court on January 3.
In North Belfast two nationalist residents groups called off protests during an Apprentice Boys feeder parade past Ardoyne on Saturday. One band and up to 115 people took part in the march past the flashpoint. Tensions in the area have been high since the Parades Commission banned Orangemen from passing the nationalist district as they made their way home from their annual Twelfth celebrations in July. A loyalist protest camp has been set up on nearby wasteground while nightly parades are held in the area. Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (GARC) spokesman Dee Fennell said they suspended plans for a protest “to reduce tension, give traders respite and reduce disruption” in the area. Crumlin and Ardoyne Residents’ Association (CARA) spokesman Joe Marley said their protest was called off as a “gesture of goodwill”. Meanwhile, up to 3,000 poeple and 31 bands took part in the main Apprentice Boys parade in Derry on Saturday commemorating the 17th century siege of the city. It passed off without incident and was described as a success. An Apprentice Boys feeder parade in Castlederg, Co Tyrone, also passed off peacefully. Meanwhile, Parades Commission chairman Peter Osborne has accused some politicians in the north of providing bad leadership. He was speaking after an illegal loyalist parade was held through Belfast city centre on November 30. Police confirmed last week that the organiser of the parade had been interveiwed and would be prosecuted, while The Irish News also revealed that a bandsman involved in a march past St Matthew’s Church in East Belfast last year has become the first person to be given a jail term for breaching a Parades Commission ruling. “I am not happy that anybody is being posecuted for parades-related offences and other offences that will have a hugely detrimental impact on their life,” he told the BBC. “I think there’s some bad leadership in the North of Ireland at the minute, the result of which there are a lot of young people being arrested and prosecuted and have criminal records when they really don’t need to have.”
With many thanks to: Connla Young, The Irish News.