Belfast Telegraph

Order told to identify rioting Orangemen during Belfast Twelfth clashes

Men in regalia filmed attacking PSNI with sticks and missiles

By Aidrian Rutherford

The Orange Order is facing mounting pressure to hand over the names of any members who attacked police during violence in Belfast over the Twelfth.

A number of Orangemen were among a crowd which clashed with officers after marchers were stopped from passing shop fronts at Ardoyne in the north of the city on Friday evening.

Footage shows some people wearing Orange sashes and regalia hurling insults and attacking police lines with sticks and missiles.

Last night the Orange Order refused to say if it will co-operate with police, despite growing calls for the organisation to back up its condemnation of the weekend violence by turning in anyone who broke the law.

Former assistant chief constable Peter Sheridan, now head of peace-building charity Co-operation Ireland, said the Order must help to identify the culprits.

"If we really want to deal with the violence then, as difficult as it will be for them, morally and ethically that is what's required," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

There have also been calls for the Orange Order to call off its protest completely after the violence which resulted in more than 30 arrests by last night. Yesterday First Minister Peter Robinson appealed for an end to the violence.

"It's very important that cool heads prevail in these circumstances and I hope people will obey the announcement and statement by the Orange institution that people should desist from violence," he said. "The only kind of protest that is ever justifiable is a lawful and peaceful protest."

Orange leaders called for protests after marchers were banned from walking along a stretch of road in Ardoyne after Friday's main Twelfth parade.

Trouble flared with petrol bombs, bricks and fireworks thrown at police in the Woodvale area. Thirty-two officers and North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds were injured.

Last night, the DUP said Mr Dodds had been released from hospital and was making a good recovery at home. The Order later said it was suspending its protest, but trouble flared again on Saturday night with laser pens used, and petrol bombs and stones hurled.

Seven officers were injured.

Justice Minister David Ford warned rioters they will be brought to justice quickly and face the full rigours of the law.

Yesterday a special court sitting was held in Belfast to deal with some of those arrested during the previous two nights.

Not all of those involved in the disorder have been arrested, leading to calls for the Orange Order to help track down anyone.

Mr Sheridan said it was a key test of the Order's leadership.

"I understand it's a difficult step to do, but that is what's required. Leadership requires those difficult decisions," he added.

"We heard the Orange Order come out and say there should not be any violence. The next logical step to that is to assist the police who took the brunt of that, to identify the people involved in the rioting.

"For the Orange Order it would send out a message that they're serious about this – they're serious about condemnation and not supporting violence.

"It would send a message to their own people and to others. If not it begs the question as to whether the condemnation was fulsome and genuine."

William Humphrey, a DUP MLA for North Belfast, declined to comment directly on whether the Orange Order should assist the PSNI. He said: "I will wait and see what the Orange Order has to say on the matter. All violence is wrong and it has to be condemned. The Orange Order clearly called for a peaceful protest."

Mr Humphrey said he had not seen Orangemen taking part in the violence, but added: "No-one is above the law".

SDLP policing spokesman Conall McDevitt (below) said the Orange Order also had a duty to help identify any bandsmen who took part in the violence and who breached a Parades Commission ruling by playing The Sash outside St Patrick's Church in Donegall Street earlier in the day.

"There is a duty for the Orange Order to act as good citizens and hand over the names of their members who clearly broke the law," Mr McDevitt said.

"I think that duty extends to help police identify bandsmen who also broke the law in terms of attacking police and also through the breach of Parades Commission determinations.

"It was the Orange Order who brought those bands on to the street, they are only there by invitation of the Orange Order. They hired those bands. They know who they are."

An Orange Order spokesman refused to comment on whether the organisation would help the PSNI. "No comment on any of your questions," he replied.

Chief Constable Matt Baggott branded the violence "shameful and disgraceful" – and hit out at the Orange Order's "reckless" call to protest.

On Saturday, he said: "I think this morning some of the leadership within the Orange Order needs to reflect upon whether they provided the responsible leadership asked for by myself and by the party leaders.

"Some of their language was emotive, having called thousands of people to protest, they had no plan and no control, and rather than being responsible, I think the word for that is reckless."

The Order also declined to comment on Mr Baggott's remarks.

Yesterday the Justice Minister warned those convicted of rioting would be swiftly dealt with.

"I would warn those intent on engaging in violence on our streets to think through the consequences of their actions," he said. "My message is clear; do not get involved in rioting on our streets, but if you choose to do so then be prepared to face the courts within hours."


What we asked the Orange Order:

* What is its response to the comments from Matt Baggott about calls for street protests being "reckless"?

* Will it help to identify Orange Order members who ignored their Order's call for peaceful protests and participated in the violence?

* Will it help to identify bandsmen who broke the law by attacking police and also breaching Parades Commission determinations?

* In light of the continuing violence, will the Orange Order agree to cancel its protest?

The Orange Order response:

"No comment on any of your questions"

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