Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 23 November 2014

Anger at parade bomb alert

Monday's Apprentice Boys parade passes St Patrick's Church, Donegall Street
Monday's Apprentice Boys parade passes St Patrick's Church, Donegall Street
The nationalist residents protest outside St Patrick's Church as bandsmen and members of the Apprentice Boys of Derry Parade make their way down Donegall Street, North Belfast
A band passes St Patrick's Roman Catholic Church on Donegall Street, Belfast

A bomb alert aimed at disrupting a loyalist parade has been described as an attack on the entire community.

The road between the Ardoyne shops and Ballysillan Road in north Belfast was closed as Army bomb experts examined a suspicious object on Monday.

Police initially said it was a viable bomb, but later issued a retraction.

Some residents were unable to leave their homes during the alert and an Apprentice Boys march along the road was delayed.

Police are understood to have been combing the area for suspicious devices from 4am on Monday.

An object was discovered just after 6.40am, causing the route to be shut for almost two hours.

The alert ended at 8.35am, permitting the parade to pass.

North Belfast Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly said the alert had achieved nothing.

"It doesn't help anybody, it didn't stop the Apprentice Boys parade.

"It blocked off the road, it stalled everything for a period of time. There were people in The Dales who could have been injured," he said.

"This is the first notified parade through Ardoyne, the Mountainview and The Dales, and there was a great deal of worry about this as the beginning of the official marching season.

"I'm glad it went off peacefully and hope the rest of the marching season will go off peacefully, but at the bottom of it all, they need to come back and talk to residents so we're not sitting here every year having to go through this sort of tension."

A spokesman for the North and West Belfast Parades and Cultural Forum hit out at those behind the alert.

Winston Irvine said 150 people had taken part in the march.

"The parade was very peaceful and dignified," he said. "This was despite the aggressive, intimidatory tactics used by republicans to place a device on the route, a discriminatory, sectarian act which is to be condemned in the strongest terms.

"The disruption which resulted was felt by the entire community. The consequences of such an attack on those taking part and local residents don't bear thinking about."

Dee Fennel from the Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective said while he opposed the parade, he also condemned the alert.

"The people of Mountainview couldn't get out of their homes, anyone who was trying to get to work was prevented from doing so," he said.

"We're consistent in our approach that any opposition to these parades should be peaceful and we would ask anyone to desist from anything that would raise tensions in the area."

North Belfast DUP MLA Nelson McCausland said the device was an attempt by dissidents to disrupt a "peaceful and law-abiding" Apprentice Boys parade.

The object was being examined on Monday night.

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