'Football' thugs in sectarian attack on bar, claims MP
A mob of "vicious" football hooligans has been accused of a sectarian attack on a bar and its customers after a high-profile Irish League match involving Cliftonville and Linfield.
Police are investigating after reports that Cliftonville supporters invaded The Hedgehog and Bucket pub on the Oldpark Road in north Belfast on Saturday after the 2-2 draw at Solitude.
North Belfast DUP MP Nigel Dodds said at 5.40pm a mob entered the pub chanting 'CLF' which he claimed stands for 'Cliftonville Lunatic Fringe'.
They could be heard chanting slogans in the Cliftonville Road area earlier.
But yesterday, Cliftonville FC chairman Gerard Lawlor said: "I'm unaware of any incidents and I see no connection with Cliftonville Football Club."
However, Mr Dodds condemned "the attack on the Hedgehog and Bucket bar on the Oldpark Road by a mob of around 40 men".
"They proceeded to throw bottles and pint glasses at people emerging from the bar, engaged in hand-to-hand fighting and damaged some cars in the vicinity, before leaving the scene," he said.
"By all accounts this was a vile and totally unprovoked sectarian attack on a Protestant bar by a vicious mob.
"Only by sheer chance was no one seriously injured in this attack, during which bottles and glasses were thrown and people were attacked."
PUP councillor Jolene Bunting said she had received reports that cars going along the Oldpark Road had been attacked at around the same time. "One man reported that the youths tried to open his car doors," she said. A PSNI spokesman said: "Just before 5.30pm, police received reports of a crowd heading up the Deerpark Road towards Oldpark Road. Just after 5.40pm, police received reports of youths running in to a bar on the Oldpark Road and shouting sectarian slogans. There were reports of fighting outside the bar and of bottles being thrown at passing cars."
Inspector Jocelyn Wise added: "Police attended the bar approximately seven minutes after the report was received. By this time, calm had been restored and the crowd had left the area. There were no reports of any injuries, though a car wing mirror was damaged as a result."
On Saturday night police said they had been monitoring hundreds of youths in north Belfast, saying they were "aware of arranged fights".