Interesting developments in the 06

Up to 500 involved in ‘worst rioting’ in Belfast for years

Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - 01:06 PM

Loyalist paramilitaries supposed to be on ceasefire organised major rioting in Belfast and opened fire on police, a senior officer has revealed.

Around 500 people were involved in violence at a sectarian interface in the east of the city last night.

Police said shots were fired from the republican Short Strand area, while loyalists also opened fire, but masked Ulster Volunteer Force members were blamed for starting the violence by attacking homes in the Catholic enclave.

Two men on the loyalist side of the divide suffered gunshot wounds to the leg, officers confirmed.

But bullet marks on police vehicles were blamed on the UVF and are being treated as the attempted murder of officers.

Chief Superintendent Alan McCrum said: “We believe at this point that members of the east Belfast UVF were involved.

“It would be a line of investigation to establish whether that was a co-ordinated and organised ’organisational’ position (by the UVF central leadership).

“But at this point we are satisfied that at the very least members of east Belfast UVF were involved in organising the disorder.”

The violence is being described as some of the most serious seen in the North for years.

The UVF is one of the biggest loyalist paramilitary groups and despite having observed a ceasefire and having decommissioned its weapons, the group was blamed for a murder last year.

A paramilitary watchdog group found that the UVF’s leadership sanctioned what was branded the “public execution” of loyalist Bobby Moffett who was shot dead in front of shoppers on Belfast’s Shankill Road.

But the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) stopped short of recommending government sanction of the UVF.

The recent appearance of UVF murals in east Belfast depicting masked and armed men was seen as a bid by the group to stamp its mark on the area.

Last night’s violence was condemned at the Northern Ireland Assembly, and while local representatives gave conflicting accounts of what happened, the police said the episode was initiated by the UVF.

Mr McCrum said: “It started when a group of young men after nine o’clock last night made their way into the area of the Short Strand and did unquestionably attack homes in that community.

“That precipitated a response from the community in the Short Strand and then we were left with two communities who then for the next four hours were seeking to involve themselves in conflict across what was, and continues to be, a very challenging interface.”

Petrol bombs, bricks and other missiles were hurled during the rioting, which comes ahead of the most tense period of the loyalist marching season.

At the height of the disturbances, republicans fired six shots, while loyalists fired five shots. Loyalists were blamed for opening fire on a police Land Rover, leaving strike marks on the vehicle.

The police said they would step up security in the area in the nights to come.

Mr McCrum denied police had failed to react quickly enough to the violence, or to contain the loyalist crowd.

“I think it’s important to highlight that it was police who identified that this group were gathering (at Short Strand),” he said.

“We had additional resources in the Short Strand last night, but no one could have anticipated the scale of the disorder that took place.

“No one could have anticipated that hundreds of people would be on the street and that petrol bombs, blast bombs, sticks and bottles would be thrown over four to five hours.”

Asked about the shots fired by republicans, he said there was no indication of Provisional IRA involvement.

“There is nothing to suggest at this point that those shots were fired by Provisional members,” he said.

The chief superintendent said two shots fired by loyalists struck a police vehicle.

“That clearly was an attempted murder of police officers and on that basis we are investigating that part of the attack as an attempted murder of police officers,” he said.

He paid tribute to the police, who he said were in the frontline of trying to protect communities against crowds that were “hell-bent on disorder”.

The location of the riot is an inner city area, not far from the centre of Belfast, and has been a long-standing flashpoint.

The Short Strand is a small Catholic community in the predominantly Protestant east Belfast area.

Mr McCrum appealed for an end to the tensions.

“It is in no one’s interests that east Belfast and the city of Belfast is trailed through the mud in terms of its reputation,” he said.

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What’s going on with the UVF? Seems to be an internal power struggle and a certain faction is flexing their muscle against the nationalist community. Laying down a marker or something?

Local resident reports indicate that the police observed the loyalist mob running amok breaking windows and setting fire to Short Strand residents’ homes and the community were forced to organise and protect themselves.

Pretty sickening stuff.

Like 1969 where Billy McKee and comrades held off a loyalist rampage, shots were fired from St. Matthews church to repel the loyalist mob.

I’ve heard a few different reasonings why the UVF were involved, one is to do with the HET and not wanting them to unearth some of their findings, another is to do with decisions made by the parade commission. Even though this kind of thing is common place coming up to marching season, this is an escalation of anything we’ve seen in recent years. Going to be a long summer you’d imagine. It will also be interesting to see if this mini revival by the UVF will be sustained and what the permutations of it will be. The O6 is always a powder keg waiting to go off and there is growing unrest in the nationalist community towards it.!/Short_Strand

I blame Rory McIlroy, what was he thinking winning that tournament.

This has kicked off again tonight, two press photographers have been wounded by shots

This has been brewing for some time.

RTE have the Greek elections ahead of this in their news.

Twitter is great for exposing the likes of BBC NI in this.

Read an article in one of the Sunday papers that the UVF are threatening to attack Catholic homes in Bangor unless a list of demands are met by the Town Council.

“Give us what we want or we’ll attack some taigs” :rolleyes:

Loyalist cuntfucks rioting in Ballyclare and targeting nationalists tonight - probably won’t get reported much at all.

I hope good people stay safe in the O6 over the next few days.

how are social tensions in Glasgow these days?

Christ, token reply to satisfy need for attention.