Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) flags prompt feud fear

Billy Wright leader of the Loyaist Ulster Volunteer Force the (LVF)

FEARS are growing of another loyalist feud erupting in a Co Antrim town. Tensions are running high after the recent erection of LVF flags in Ballymena.

The flags have been put up on lampposts in the Doury Road estate, an area regarded locally as a UDA stronghold. The LVF flags were put up in the Camberwell Way part of the estate. The move is being blamed on an LVF faction who recently moved from Co Antrim. “They are blow ins,” revealed our source. “Whether they moved of their own free will or where put out no one knows. “But there is no way the UDA will put up with that.

ACTION 

“Doury Road has always been an area with big support for the UDA.” There are fears that the actions will antagonise UDA members into action. “It is only a small group but I’ve been told more are expected to arrive from Antrim,” added our source. “Hopefully nothing kicks off but people with authority in the organisation are monitoring the situation closely.”

There has been no love lost between the rival paramilitary organisations over the years. The LVF built up a strong affiliation with Johnny Adair’s Shankill Road UFF unit. And it was the unveiling of an LVF flag outside a bar during a show of strength which sparked the vicious feud which ultimately led to Adair’s exile. Now there are fears that Ballymena could be about to become the centre of another violent loyalist dispute.

With many thanks to the: Sunday World and Richard Sullivan for the original story.

Kelly’s role highlighted in PIRA’s ‘great escape’

STATE PAPERS Belfast and Dublin

THE mass escape of 38 PIRA prisoners from the Maze Prison, near Belfast on September 25 1983 in which a prison warder was stabbed to death, is detailed in previously confidential files. Like many files in this year’s releases, that relating to the prison escape is partially closed to 2069.

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The official report claims that Gerry Kelly (Old Baily bomber), one of the PIRA escapees and now a Shame Fein MLA, shot a prison guard in the head. Confidential reports prepared for the Secretary of State Jim Priors shed new light on the event and the role of a British military guard at the prison. In a report on the events of that dramatic Sunday, penned the following day, W J Kerr, director of prison operations in the North of Ireland, described how at 16.45 hours he was informed of ‘an incident at the Maze’. He immediately proceeded to the prison where he ‘was informed that H7 Block had been taken over by armed prisoners who had hijacked the kitchen lorry and had proceeded to the main gate.’ There follows a diary of the events on that Sunday. The day began normally with prisoners unlocked for breakfast and exercise. At 11.15 Fr Rooney, the Catholic chaplain, celebrated Mass in the H Block with 54 prisoners in attendence. Dinner was served at 12.15 hours after which all prisoners were returned to their cells. Suddenly at 14.45 hours prisoners in H Block 7 overpowered staff on duty and took control of the block. Various weapons were used including guns.

The prisoners commandeered the prison meals delivery van and 38 prisoners forced the prison officer driver to drive the van from the block through segment gates one and eight to the prison main gate. The escapees then overpowered the staff on duty at the gate and, although eventually the alam was raised, they managed to get out of the prison proper. The prisoners at this point disappeared and fled in different directions.’ Among the prisoners in H7 were Gerry Kelly, aged 30, (the present Shame Fein MLA for North Belfast) and Brendan ‘Bic’ McFarlane who had been a spokesman for the hunger strikers during the 1981 Hunger Strike. Kelly had been convicted at Winchester in 1973, along with Marian Price/Mc Glincy and Dolours Price (The Price Sisters) and Hugh Feeney, for setting off car bombs in London. In all he had made four previous escape attempts. McFarlane (then 31), described in the file as ‘a PIRA leader deeply involved in the organisation’ was sentenced to five life terms for the 1975 bombing of the Bayardo Bar on the Shankill Road in which five people died. The sequence of events at the prison began when prisoner Mead overpowered a senior officer while ‘Prisoner Storey entered the principal officer’s office carrying a gun and pointed it at the senior officer’s head.’ Storey then took charge, “forcing the officer to answer the telephone in a normal manner”. Meanwhile, other officers were being overpowered and tied up throughout the H Block. “Officer Leak was in the toilet when he heard two shots. He left [to see] Prisoner 58  [Gerry Kelly] pointing a pistol into the control room. “Kelly turned the gun on Leak and forced him into the officers’ tea room. Leak was tied up and hooded. Kerr added at this point: “This would establish that prisoner Kelly shot officer Adams who was on duty in the control. It is not clear if the control grille was locked before Mr Adams was shot.” As the IRA inmates gradually seized control of the wings they approached the inner gates where ‘Bic’ McFarlane told the prison guard that he had been “sent to clean the sentry box”. The officer was then overpowered  by armed prisoners. Meanwhile, officer McLaughlin was on duty as kitchen van driver and at 15.25 hours had passed through the lock gates of H Block to deliver afternoon tea. “As officer McLaughlin started to unload the meal from the van, prisoner Storey put a gun to his head and forced him into the medical inspection room.

“Whilst there he was threatened by prisoner [Gerry] Kelly who told him to do as he was told or he would be ‘blown away’.” McLaughlin was then forced to drive the van from the block to the main gate through the inner gates. According to the report the van proceeded through the first gate unchallenged to a parking lot where most of the uniformed prisoners ddisembarked. At the main gates they seized the controls and got outside. However, Kerr stressed, the staff in the Tally Lodge “resisted strongly and in the ensuing affray one officer was stabbed and died shortly afterwards. “By this time the alarm had been raised and two officers sitting in their cars outside the gate drove into the area, blocking the exit.” In the resulting melee 10 escapees were captured including a man called Murray who was wounded by an army sentry in a watch-tower. At the time of the report on 26 September, 21 inmates remained “unlawfully at large”. In his conclusion, Kerr highlighted a number of aspects of the PIRA escape which gave him concern. In particular, the fact that the inmates were in possession of firearms suggested that they and their supporters outside were able to breach the security measures at the Maze. He was particularly alarmed at the ease with which prisoners were able to gain access to the secure entrance into the blocks and the main gates. He also questioned how the escaping prisoners were allowed to drive a hijacked vehicle through two inner gates without being challenged and why five officers in H Block 7 were permitted to be off their posts at the same time. Claims by the DUP leader, Ian Paisley that the military guard had failed to open fire prompted a memo to the secretary of state from an NIO official, P W J Buxton on September 28 1983 on the reaction of the soldiers who formed a 150-strong prison guard. He reported that in the watchtower on the main gate had shot an escaper whom he had just seen shot a prison officer. The position of a soldier shooting escapers was quite clear, Buxton noted; ‘the Yellow Card’ applied. Thus, unless the escaper is presenting a direct threat to life, or has just killed or injured someone and there was no other way of arresting, he is not authorised to shoot.

With many thanks to: Eamon Phoenix, The Irish News.

UDA agent ‘mentally unstable’ according to British army files!

‘We will have to study this new information and see what course of action we take as a result – John Finucane.

Newly discovered military documents reveal that British agent Brian Nelson had previously been discharged from the army after suffering serious mental illness.

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Records obtained by victims campaigner and researcher Ciaran MacAirt show that when Nelson left the ranks of the Black Watch in February 1970 he had suffered a breakdown. Despite this he was issued with a legally-held firearm and later recruited as a British army agent, going on to be involved in the shipment of arms and multiple murders, including the 1989 shooting of human rights solicitor Pat Finucane. On the orders of his handlers Nelson had infiltrated the UDA gang which shot dead the father-of-three. The murdered man’s son, solicitor John Finucane, said the family would be asking for clarification about the new information. The murder was the subject of a recent British government-ordered review by barrister Sir Desmond de Silva. However, no mention was made of Nelson’s medical condition.”This is certainly disturbing and something that the MoD [Ministry of Defence] would need to explain. It is also now for Desmond de Silva to state whether he was aware of this,” Mr Finucane said. “We will have to study this new information and see what course of action we take as a result.”

kr

The documents show that when Nelson, from the Shankill area of Belfast, was “mentally and emotionally unstable”. Medical assessments carried out in November and December 1969 recommended he not have any overseas combat postings. In the space of a month his condition was found to have deteriorated from ‘very serious’ to the gravest category. The December 1969 examination showed that his mental breakdown was so serious he was recommended for discharge just weeks later. Mr MacAirt said: “Nelson, British army number 24032542, was very far from the model soldier. “His military records display a litany of misdemeanours, including the serious ‘absent without leave’ and criminality. “During his short, four-year military service he had served 128 days in military detention – more than 8 per cent of his total service. “What is most interesting, though, is that we learn of the reason for his final discharge. It was not due to his poor service history or that he went AWOL as has been thought. “The reason for his discharge has serious ramifications for the de Silva report and calpability in litigation that is being brought befor the court against the British State. “Brian Nelson’s military file records that he was discharged from the British army as he was mentally and emotionally unstable.” Despite his mental condition, Nelson was recruited by the British army’s Force Research Unit (FRU) in 1984, but not before he had been involved in serious sectarian attacks including the ‘romper room’ torture of Gerard Higgins, who was registered blind, in a Shankill Road drinking den. Mr Higgins was beaten, burned and electroucuted by Nelson and a gang of loyalists before being taken away in a car. The car, which belonged to the former soldier, was intercepted by a British army unit. Nelson was found to be armed with a legally held weapon. Transcripts of his police interveiws, obtained by Mr MacAirt, reveal that he told the RUC he had been given the weapon for his own protection. Nelson was sentenced to serve seven years for the 1973 attack on Mr Higgins of which he served half. Charges of conspiracy to murder against him were dropped. “How could Nelson have been issued with a gun if, as his military record tells us, he was mentally and emotionally unstable and discharged from the British army because of this?” Mr MacAirt said. “The revelations of Brian Nelson’s mental and emotional instability and the questions raised about his convictions go to the very foundation of the de Silva report and his examination of Nelson as an agent.”

with many thanks to: Allison Morris,The Irish News

INDEPENDENT COMMEMORATION IN HONOUR OF OGLACH MARTIN MEEHAN

SUNDAY 3rd NOVEMBER

ARDOYNE AVENUE AT 2pm

Failte Bach Daoine/Everyone Welcome

ORGANISED BY FAMILY AND FRIENDS

ORANGE DEMO DEATH THREAT – DISSIDENTS TARGET LOYALIST CAMP

Cop warning to protesters

  • REBEL republicans have issued death threats to Orange demo supporters manning the protest camp at the Ardoyne interface in Belfast.

  • The Sunday World can reveal that police have visited the homes of a core of those keeping vigil at the so-called Protestant Civil Rights Camp at the top of the city‘s Twaddell Avenue.

  • And the cops have told them that their lives are in danger from dissidents, and they must take precautions to protect themselves and their families.

  • We can also reveal that the camp which is costing £40,000 a day to police – is being run on a ‘shift’ basis, detailed in its nine-point, four pages long ‘Code of Conduct‘, a copy of wwhich the Sunday World has seen.

  • And that includes a ban on booze at the 24/7 makeshift camp and barring kids from the camp, but ‘encouraging’ them to be on the front line supporting Orange ‘parades and events’.

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A number of pickets, staging shifts at the so-called ‘Equality Civil Rights Camp’ on the corner of the city’s Twaddell Avenue, have been visited at their homes access the city by police and officially warned their lives are in danger.They have been told that the rebel republican militants may have details of their movements, their workplaces, their cars, and their home aaddresses – many in the loyalist districts of the city – and their domestic and family circumstances. It is understood that the dissidents may have been targeting  prominent loyalists way back since the six-week long Union Flag pprotests which streached over last Christmas and New Year, and sparked mayhem on city streets.

HUGE

  • The death threats come at a critical time after a the long hot summer of marching and rioting in Belfast, with violence erupting on both sides of the sectarian devide. It has been reported in recent days that there are now splits emerging in the ranks of the two main loyalist paramilitary organisations, the UVF and the UDA, with some hawks in both organisations wanting to break their ceasefires and ‘go back to war’. That was underpinned by the huge haul of UVF guns discovered hidden in a glen in South Belast a fortnight ago. If the dissidents dotarget any of the potesters – especially those prominent at the so-called ‘Civil Rights’ Camp situted on the fringe of the tinderbox Ardoyne interface – retaliation is almost certain to folow from the UVF, who staged a sinister show-of-strength at its annual Brian Robinson commemorition parade in the West of the city yesterday. There were also reports yesterday of masked UVF men firing a volley of shots in the Sankill Parade area on Friday night, as a preveiw to yesterday’s parade. Said a senior loyalist on the Shankill last night: “The dissidents should be aware. If they act against any loyalists taking part in parade protests, or any of hsr keeping vigil at the Twaddell Avenue camp, that will be tantamount to an act of war.” Meanwhile, we can reveal that  a self-styled ‘Code of Conduct’ means that the protest camp – labeled the ‘Civil Rights’ Camp, and ‘established to campaign for Equility’ according to the titleon the Code – is being run on a military-style template. We have seen the extensive nine-point, four-page Code. It requires a specified minimum number of camp supporters to do ‘shifts’ round-the-clock, 24/7. And the Code, which carres almost 40 clauses, covers such Camp ‘Protocols’ as: –
  • A total ban on booze and drugs. A crucial clause reads: ‘Alcohol/Substances are ‘NOT TO CONSUMED’ in or around the vicinty of the Camp under any circumstance, and those considered to be under the influence of Alochol/Substances will be removed from the Camp and requested to leave the vicinty. It further states ‘this includes visitors from ther venues’.
  • A ban on nocturnal nookie at the Camp. One Protocol states: “Only couples (married/partners ) will be permitted to share Night/Duty”.
  • A ‘No Smoking’ ban on indoor or inclosed areas of the Camp, near cooking facilities.
  • A ban on music after nine at night.
  • A strict, military-style Camp Duty Shift rota.
  • A Never-on-a-Sunday ‘events’ ban, with the Sabbath ‘being used only for White Line Protes and Camp Staffing’.
  • A ban on children from the Camp and White Line protests ‘for reasons of Health and Safety’, although there is no ban on children being in the front line in other circumstances. One protocol reads: “They [children] are however encouraged to support parades and events but MUST be under the supervision of an adult at all times.’

The penultimate line of the Code of Conduct even carries a disclaimer in a blunt warning in bbold type it warns: “You enter and remain on this site at your own risk.”

ORDER

Meantime, the UVF’s annual stage-managed show-of-strength on the Shankill Road passed off peacefully yesterday. The parade is held annually to ‘commemorate’ UVF volenteer Brian Robinson, shot dead in an SAS ambush after he gunned down a Catholic shop kepper, Paddy McKena, at the Ardoyne in 1989. Ranks of UVF men dressed in black suits, white shirts and black ties, were marshalled and marched to a wall mural in Robinson’s memory in Disraeli Street closr to the’Civil Rights’ protest at Ardoyne. Said a loyalist siurce on the Shankill: “The UVF put out an order that the ‘lid was to be kept’ on the Robinson commemoration.”

With many thanks to : Jim McDowell, Sunday Word.

THE GRIM REAPER – Greysteel psycho is freed from jail….again

Greysteel killer walks free for second time as prison staff tell us “He’s a nasty nutter”

TRICK OR TREAT‘ 

HORROR GUNMAN

RELOADED – SO HE

COULD KILL MORE

TWISTED Grey steel killer Stephen Irwin is back walking the streets of Ulster, we can reveal. The 40-year-old UFF murderer walked out of Maghaberry Prison on Wednesday, in a shock decision which is certain to cause distress for the families of his eight victims.

RETURN OF THE REAPER

Irwin was responsible for one of the darkest days of the Troubles when he walked into the Rising Sun Bar on Hallowe’en night in 1993 armed to the teeth. Wearing a boiler suit and a balaclaver he fired around 44 shots, killing eight innocent people, and even stopped at one stage to replace his magazine clip so he could cntinue his bloody rampage. Last night the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) confirmed Irwin had been released. The Sunday World has learned that Irwin – regarded as a hero within some loyalist circles – was released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement for a SECOND time. Irwin – who revelled in the nick-name given to him ‘Stevie Greysteel’ – was released after convincing a panel of Sentence Review Commissioners (SRC) that he was fit to be set free.

The move has shocked senior prison officers who say Irwin is “extremely violent”. Irwin had already been given an undeserved second chance when he was originally released under the terms of the 1998 peace agreement. But the blood-thirsty thug was returned to jail to serve out the remainder of his eight life sentences when he was involved in a vicious knife attack during the Irish Cup Final in 2005. He was given another four years on top for slashing the throat of another football van in a frenzied attack in Windsor Park. But he was told at the time of that court case that even after the four years had been served he would have to convince the SRC that it was safe for him to be set free. It means instead of serving the other eight life sentences Irwin is currently living in the Shankill area of Belfast.

Refused

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After he was released from prison the first time he refused to return to his home in Co Derry and instead moved into the Shankill because he had fallen in with Johnny Adair and his ‘C’ Company crew inside. There had been speculation within Maghaberry Prison that Irwin had been released on the orders of the Secretary of State, Teresa Villiers. However a spokesperson for the NIO said Ms Villiers had no involvement in Irwin’s release. The spokesperson said: “Mr Irwin applied to the Sentence Review Commissioners (SRC) for early release under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. “The SRC is an independent body and it is for them, not the Secretary of State, to determine prisoners ‘ suitability for release.”The Sentence Review Commissioners determined that Mr Irwin’s application for early release should be granted.” Last night prison sources said officerd in Maghaberry said they were shocked Irwin had been deemed fit for release. “He had a very bad reputation inside the jail,” said the source. “In fact the prison officers used to call him Stevie ‘what the f**k are you looking at ‘ Irwin because that’s usually how he spoke to people. “He was a real nutter, an nasty little piece of work when he was in here and was responsible for a number of assaults. “Nobody could believe it when they heard he was being let out. “And nobody will be remotely suprised when he walks back through the gates at Maghaerry!” The UFF targeted The Rising Sun Bar in Graysteel because it was a Catholic area, however two of the eight people murdered were Protestant. Irwin subsequently bragged to his fellow inmates about how he prepared for his deathly bussiness when he opened fire on drinkers in the pub. The incident became known as the ‘Trick or Treat’ murders because Irwin messed up his speech.

Nervous

He was supposed to read out a prepared UFF speech but got nervous and shouted ‘Trick or Treat’ instead. A woman in the bar, who thought it was a Hallowe’en prank said, “that’s not funny” and Irwin shot her first. It followed an IRA bomb attack on the Shankill Road in West Belfast just days earlier in which 10 people, including one of the bombers, were killed. One of his accomplices, Torrens Knight, was handed 12 life sentences for his part in the massacre and for his role in the separate murders of four workmen. He too was returned to jail in 2009 for attacking two woman who rowed with him and his wife in a bar. He also applied to the SRC and was released a year later. In 2006 the Sunday World published photos of Stephen Irwin inside the Old Maze prison partying with other loyalists and taking drugs. At the time it had been claimed he had penned a sick poem called ‘The Reaper’ which glorified the Greysteel massacre. His mother had contacted the Sunday World to deny her son had had anything to do with the poem. But we recieved photos of him sitting in his cell with the gruesome poem painted on his cell wall aloneside another of a gravestone with the words Trick or Treat – Rest in Pieces on it. Former inmates told us he bragged about his heinous crimes. “He was very proud of what he did at Graysteel and he showed no remorse at all,” said a former inmate. “He told everyone how he practised for a whole week to change the magazine on his AK-47 so he could re-load and kill as many people as possible,” said the former inmate. “He said he needed to be able to do it in five seconds just in case anyone tried to attack him when the first clip ran out. He said he practised it over 200 times.”

With many thanks to : Steven Moore, Sunday World.

CALM URGED AHEAD OF RIVAL PARADES ON ‘LAST SATURDAY’

Republicans and loyalists apply to march same contentious route

THERE have been appeals for calm after a republican band and the Royal Black Institution applied for permission to march on the same Belfast street later this month. Members of the Royal Black Institution have applied to walk past St Patricks Church and nearby nationalist district of Carrick Hill on August 25 as they make their way to south Belfast for a church service.

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Up to two bands and 300 people are expected to take part. However, it has also emerged that North Belfast-based Henry Joy McCracken Flute Band has also applied to march through Carrick Hill on its way to Clifton Street Cemetery shortly after the loyal order parade. Serious violence erupted during a Royal Black Institution ‘Last Saturday’ parade past St Patrick‘s last year. Tensions in the area have been high since Shankill Road-based band Young Conway Volunteers were filmed walking in circles outside the church while playing the sectarian ‘Famine Song‘ on July 12 last year. The republican parade has been organised to commemorate United Irishman Henry Joy McCracken who was executed by British forces in 1798 and who is buried in Clifton Street Cemetery. Up to seven bands and 500 people are expected to take part in the parade which will leave Ardoyne before traveling through north Belfast to New Lodge and on to Carrick Hill. Trouble flared during a similar parade last year when around 200 loyalist protested as the republican band and supporters passed Clifton Street Orange Hall. A number of senior loyalists were pictured on the balcony of Clifton Street Orange hall as the parade passed.

Although both parades have applied to start at 2pm, organisers of the republican event say they will not leave Ardoyne until 3pm and expect those taking part in the Royal Black Institution march to have passed Clifton Street before they arrive. On the return journey the Royal Black Institution parade is expected to have passed Clifton Street and reached its end point on the Crumlin Road by 5.30pm while the republican parade will leave the cemetery at 6pm before returning along Clifton Street. Henry Joy McCracken committee member Sammy Cusick appealed for calm ahead of the parade and urged those intent on trouble to “stay away”. “We are trying to bill this as inclusive for all,” he said. “Our band is named after Henry Joy McCracken and you know he was a Presbyterian, a Protestant, who fought to break the connection with England. “We don’t want to be stoking sectarian tensions at this time and the reason we have a return parade in the evening was to take the crowd away from the area.” Mr Cusick said the band had voluntarily marched along Clifton Street playing just a single drumbeat last year and a similar gesture this year had not been ruled out. A spokesman for the Royal Black Institution said: “We will be parading to our annual church parade service which we hope causes no offence to anyone. Only hymn music will be played on the way out and back from the church service.”

With many thanks to : Connla Young, The Irish news.

Order to hand out leaflets at protest parade urging peace

TO ALL OUR SUPPORTERS

from the

3 Ligional Lodges, Bands & Local residents

Today is a Parade to show we have not and will not go away.

The Parade will stop on the Woodvale Road at Woodvale Parade.

It is requested that all supporters stop at the line of Orange Marshalls.

After a period the National Anthem will be played and we will all disperse.

No matter what the provocation, violence is not the answer.

Any violence will play into the hands of Republicans.

Thankyou for  coming today and joining the campaign to see the Lodges return home and this Parades Commission removed. We look forward to your ongoing support over the coming months as the campaign unfolds.

UNITED WE STAND – DEVIDED WE FALL

Above is a copy of the wording being distributed at the Woodvale Road parade in North Belfast.

Body criticised over march amid tensions

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THE Orange Order will hand out leaflets to supporters attending a parade at Woodvale today calling on them not to engage in violence. The leaflet also states that plans to step up the Belfast protests will “unfold over the coming months.”

There is expected to be a heavy police presence in north Belfast for the protest parade that will walk from the Shankill Road to police lines at the Woodvale Road and Woodvale Parade. There are 600 ‘mutual aid ‘ officers from outside constabularies still  in the North of Ireland assisting the PSNI/RUC. Serious violence occoured at the flashpoint on July 12 after three Ligional Lodges were banned from the Crumlin Road, the violence spread to other areas and continued for four days. On Tuesday the OrangeO Order was widely criticised for applying for another parade along the Crumlin Road and past Ardoyne with tensions still high in the area. The Parades Commission refused the order permission to pass Ardoyne. Instead the group, involving 500 participants, three bands and an undisclosed number of supporters, will be stopped at police lines at Woodvale Parade.

The Orange Order have said they will have their own marshals working to keep peace during the parade and have asked supporters to leave peacefully immediately following the singing of the British national anthem. The Parades Commission have ruled that the parade must disperse by no later than 4.30pm. Nationalist residents group the Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (GARC), have cancelled a planned protest in response to the Parades Commission determination. Senior officer Will Kerr met loyalist representives at police headquarters in east Belfast yesterday to discuss the planned protest. Concerns were also raised about the policing of a parade in east Belfast on July 12 in which a number of those taking part in the march were injured. A police spokesman said that during the meeting officers confirmed that a “significant number of missiles, including stones and paint bombs, had been thrown at the parade” from the nationalist Short Strand area. “Similarly, missiles were also thrown into the Short Strand area. “The PSNI expressed concern for those who had been injured as a result of those missiles and outlined that a full investigation has now commenced. “In relation to further Parades and associated protests the PSNI again emphasise the need for behaviour to be both peaceful and lawful and highlight the fact that attacks on Police Officers are wholly unacceptable and unjustifiable,” a spokesman said.

With many thanks to : Allison Morris, The Irish News.

Orangemen will march to police lines in north Belfast every week

THE NEW DRUMCREE

ORANGEMEN plan to stage weekly ‘Drumcree-style’ parades to a North Belfast flashpoint in protest at being banned from walking along the Crumlin Road on the Twelfth. Sources say the plans to hold parades to police lines in the Wood ale area for the foreseeable future.

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The Parades Commission yesterday refused an application from the order to march from Shankill Road to Ligoniel  via the disputed section of Crumlin Road tommorow. The surprise application for 500 participants, three bands and an unknown number of supporters to hold a parade was lodged only on Tuesday. The demonstration is expected to require another huge policing operation. Six hundred mutual aid officers from British constabularies are still in the North of Ireland assisting the RUC/PSNI. A spokesman from the Orange Order said: “This decision by the Parades Commission to prevent this dignified parade is further indictment of this already discredited body.” Last night Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly called for the Orange Order to “step back from their confrontational mode and for wise heads to prevail”. Portadown Orange men have been lodging weekly applications to the parades body for almost 15 years since being prevented from marching along the Garvaghy Road. The Commission still receives around 50 applications a year in respect of the disputed Drumcree march, which sparked serious violence in the 1990s.

With many thanks to : Allison Morris,  The Irish News.

THE IRISH NEWS

pro fide et patria

Orange Order’s messages mixed

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THE Parades Commission’s rejection of a misguided Orange Order plan to march past Adoyne shops tommorow was entirely predictable. However, the order’s decision to make an application after days of protest and disorder was an unexpected development which served to increase tensions at a time when political leaders were calling for calm. The bid for a fresh parade at this flashpoint also highlighted the contradictory signals being sent out by the order. News of the application came on Wednesday, overshadowing the Orange Order’s statement saying it would “willinglly and actively participate” with the all-party discussions chaired by US diplomat Dr Richard Haass. This was a positive move but instead of this being the talking point, the focus was instead on the Ardoyne parade and the bid to keep tenisions simmering. After the Parades Commission’s ruling yesterday, it emerged the Orange Order may seek to stage weekly marches up to police lines at Woodvale. There is nothing about this strategy which is helpful or positive in terms of bridging community divisions, furthering the search for a resolution or reducing the threat of violence. If the scenes of last weekend are anything to go by, we can expect to see more disturbances and more destruction, with police braced for attacks and residents living in fear. This sort of tactic does not square with the Orange Order’s stated willingness to take part in the Haass initiative, which offers the prospect of an agreed resolution to contentious issues. It may be that this confused thinking points to a divergence  of opinion within the institution and it is certainly striking how thousands of members were able to celebrate Orange culture without any difficulty in Derry and elsewhere on the Twelfth. There are lessons here for the Belfast lodges determined to make a stand at Ardoyne. Engagement, not confrontation, is the best way to achieve a desired outcome.

ORANGEMEN SEEK NEW MARCH PAST ARDOYNE

THE Orange Order was last night urged to “see since” and scrap plans to march past Ardoyne shops again this weekend. There are fears of fresh loyalist violence after the surprise decision by North Belfast Orange men to apply for a parade at the flashpoint on Saturday.

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Rioting has broken out in loyalist areas of the city since a Parades Commission decision to stop a march returning past the interface on July 12. Furious Orange Order leaders called for protests after they were banned from walking past nationalist homes on the Crumlin Road, but later called off the action after heavy criticism from the PSNI. There were scenes of serious violence in Woodvale, close to Ardoyne, last Friday night as Orange men and supporters clashed with police enforcing the commission’s ruling. Despite this, and the fact the loyal order said no-one in the unionist community should engage with the Parades Commission, its Number Two district has now applied to march on Saturday afternoon from the Shankill Road to Ligional Orange Hall via Woodvale and the Crumlin Road.

It will involve up to 500 participants and one band, but the number of supporters is unknown. A ruling is due today (THURS). SDLP assembly member Alban Maginness branded the move “unhelpful and irresponsible”. “I am calling on the Orange Order to see since and withdraw their application,” he said.”It is time now for leadership and calm and I am calling on the Orange Order to do the right thing.” Sinn Fein assembly member Gerry Kelly also accused the order of “doing damage to community relations and themselves”. “The Orange Order said they were calling off their protests and yet we still have marches up to police lines at interfaces nightly and now this application to march on Saturday,” he said. “All this application does is inflame the situation.” The DUP’s Arlene Foster last night welcomed the fact the Order had applied to the Parades Commission, saying it was better to hold a lawful protest than an illegal one. A spokesman for the Orange Order declined to comment last night.

With thanks to : Connla Young, The Irish News.