Unionists demand police action over Twaddell camp attacks in north Belfast
Police have been urged to step up patrols at a north Belfast interface after republicans were blamed for beating a man to the ground and attacking a loyalist protest camp.
The man claimed he was punched and called an "Orange b*****d" in the early morning attack yesterday.
And just hours later, a loyalist protest camp at Twaddell Avenue, close to Ardoyne, was targeted by men reportedly armed with knives and broken bottles.
North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds appealed for calm in the area and accused republicans of trying to increase tension and fear.
"The cowardly and unprovoked attack on a Protestant man making his way home was followed by an act of sectarian vandalism against the civil rights camp at Twaddell," he said.
"The PSNI must increase their resources in this area to provide reassurance and to prevent any further attacks."
The man was set on at around 4.30am as he walked through Glenbryn Drive.
Mr Dodds said the victim received head injuries in the attack.
The loyalist camp at Twaddell, set up days after a contentious Twelfth parade was blocked from passing Ardoyne, has been manned round-the-clock every day since.
Community representatives said there has been a surge of attacks on the camp in recent days, with missiles – including bottles – directed at the site.
Yesterday morning, two men, said to have emerged from the direction of Ardoyne, slashed banners attached to the gates before fleeing.
The PUP's Winston Irvine described the incident as "deeply worrying" and said somebody could have been seriously injured had rival factions become embroiled in a row. He also hit out at police, saying the lack of a PSNI patrol in the area at the time left the site vulnerable to the "brazen and totally unprovoked attack".
Both the DUP and PUP said they would be seeking answers from police following the incident.
"A number of days ago police contacted politicians and community representatives to say they were stepping up security in the area due to an increased threat from republicans yet we had absolutely no police presence," added Mr Irvine.
A police spokesman said: "Police continue to maintain a visible policing presence in the area."