Belfast Telegraph

Calm after the storm as life returns to normality

Ralph Hewitt

By Ralph Hewitt

Just 12 hours later, the area of the New Lodge that was steeped in violence returned to normality as locals continued with everyday life yesterday morning.

More than 200 people were on the streets in the early hours as the controversy over the north Belfast anti-internment bonfire raged.

After witnessing the rioting by a core group of the pyre's supporters directed towards PSNI officers in full riot gear, it seemed inevitable that the chaos would continue into the evening.

That proved to be the case as reports of fighting and three stabbing incidents trickled through.

Returning to the scene where the once towering bonfire stood next to the New Lodge flats, there was nothing but burnt rubble, charred grass and the inevitable smell of smoke as the rain hammered down.

The once filled streets of rioters, police officers, innocent bystanders and the media pack were replaced by an elderly man walking his dog, a woman returning from the local shop and removal men delivering furniture for a family moving into the area.

One resident said that she had no interest in the previous day's dramatic events, blaming the trouble on the bonfire builders, while another stated: "I wasn't anywhere near it, I just stayed in my own house, well out of the road."

The quiet streets were a much welcomed sight as the steel barricades had also been removed from the entrance to Queen's Parade.

The fallout from the violence will continue into the weeks and months to come as the PSNI try to track down those involved in the rioting and knife attacks.

Police chiefs will no doubt be hoping to avoid the scenes that were witnessed on Thursday when August rolls around once again.

Meanwhile, local community representatives and politicians will have their hands full as they aim to seek a peaceful resolution in the coming days.

Until then, many of the residents within the New Lodge will be glad to see their community return to normality.

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