13 July 2005

BRG blames PSNI for Derry trouble

Daily Ireland

Eamonn Houston

The Bogside Residents’ Group in Derry last night blamed PSNI mishandling for minor trouble that broke out as local Orangemen made a return parade through the city centre.
The city’s main parade involved thousands of Orangemen. It had passed of peacefully earlier in the day, gaining the plaudits of political, religious and business leaders.
Just after 6pm, rival crowds of loyalists and nationalists traded insults and missiles as a small number of local Orange lodges made the return journey from their main gathering in the Waterside back through the city centre.
The PSNI swiftly parked a large white van to block the junction of the Diamond and Ferryquay Street as tensions began to rise.
Riot squads then stood between nationalist and loyalist rivals as a standoff developed. One policewoman was struck by a missile and received medical treatment.
PSNI reinforcements wearing full riot gear moved to clear the Diamond and Bishop Steet areas amid claims of heavy handedness from the Bogside Residents’ Group and republican representatives.
Residents’ group spokesman Donncha Mac Niallais said the PSNI had let drunken loyalists accompany parading Orangemen through the Diamond area for the second time in a day.
One loyalist was seen to throw a bottle at nationalist onlookers.
Mr Mac Niallais said: “This trouble was provoked by drunken loyalist thugs who were blatantly and openly allowed to drink. They threw bottles and pint glasses as this parade made its return to the city centre.
“The blame for all of this lies squarely at the feet of the PSNI. We have to question whether there is a need for a return parade such as this.”
Mr Mac Niallais would not speculate on how last night’s trouble would impact on the recent historic deal that let the Orange Order march through the city centre yesterday for the first time in 13 years.
The commanding officer at the scene, Superintendent Johnny McCarroll, defended the actions of his officers. He claimed that two had been injured. Similar actions had been taken against loyalists, he said.
“The officers have acted with the use of shields only,” he said.
“We have to return normal public order. No batons have been used and we have had to make the Diamond free to the public.”
Two petrol bombs were thrown but an intervention by republican activists defused the situation.

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