Fears of violence as parade looms at Ardoyne flashpoint
A major security operation was launched in north Belfast last night amid fears of street violence ahead of the contentious Apprentice Boys parade.
Riot police were on stand-by overnight in the Ardoyne area where the parade was due to pass the notorious flashpoint at the shopfronts between 8am and 9am.
The hardline residents group GARC (Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective) were last night still planning to stage a “peaceful” protest, similar to that staged on July 12 when they blocked the road and had to be physically removed by police officers. The protest preceded several days of riots in the area.
Another residents group CARA (the Crumlin Ardoyne Residents Association) will also be protesting after receiving permission from the Parades Commission for 140 protesters.
Tensions were high yesterday as residents prepared themselves for a repeat of last month’s serious street disorder. Several police officers were injured during three nights of violence.
There were hopes that Londonderry would remain relatively calm after a protest due to be held by dissident republicans in the centre of Derry was cancelled. It was organised to highlight a |dispute between dissident republican prisoners in Maghaberry and prison authorities, but following the intervention of mediators, the dispute was resolved on Thursday.
In Rasharkin, where trouble has flared in previous years, SDLP MLA Declan O’Loan called on all of those involved — band members, supporters and protesters — “to remember their responsibilities to the wider population of Rasharkin”.
Justice Minister David Ford |issued an appeal for calm over the weekend.
“I want to take this opportunity to appeal to anyone who might think that violence this weekend will achieve anything to step back and think again. Violence is not the way forward. It only serves to damage the daily lives of ordinary people — people who have shown time and again that they want a peaceful future where differences are resolved through |dialogue.”
He said he welcomed the cancellation of the prison related protest in Derry.