14 July 2005

CIRA claim responsibility for late violence in Ardoyne


By Ciarán Barnes

The Continuity IRA considered firing on the PSNI with automatic weapons during rioting following an Orange Order parade in the Ardoyne area of North Belfast on Tuesday night.

The leadership of the organisation made the claim in an exclusive interview with the Andersonstown News less than two hours after the July 12 violence.

The CIRA also confirmed, using a recognised code word, that its members threw two blast bombs at the PSNI that seriously injured one officer and two journalists.

Shortly after trouble in Ardoyne had ended dissident republicans contacted this newspaper to give what they termed as “their side of the story”.

A journalist was taken into West Belfast where he met with the most senior CIRA figure in the city.

He told the Andersonstown News that the only reason the organisation did not open fire on the PSNI was because it wanted to avoid another Bloody Sunday.

He said, “We had three active service units (ASUs) in Ardoyne on Tuesday night, mostly comprising volunteers from North Belfast.

“There were about 15 men in all and each ASU was armed.

“When the PSNI started firing plastic bullets at residents we considered returning fire.

“We abandoned the idea because we were fearful that many people could be injured. Instead, we decided to use blast bombs on the PSNI.”

The CIRA figure also denied PSNI claims that officers were pulling out of Ardoyne when they came under attack.

He said: “They were firing plastic bullets at residents when we attacked them.”

Rioting erupted after the PSNI attempted to hold back nationalist protesters as hundreds of Orangemen marched along the Crumlin Road for the return leg of their July 12 parade.

Shortly after 8pm bottles, bricks and debris were thrown at the PSNI after they used a water cannon to break up the demonstrators.

The PSNI responded by firing a number of plastic bullets.

A car was also hijacked and set on fire close to PSNI lines.

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams, who with party colleagues got a dousing from the water cannon, said that, despite the violence, it could have been much worse.

“The fact is that the vast majority of people have demonstrated peacefully and in a calm manner," he said.

The West Belfast MP blamed the PSNI’s strategy for the trouble. “When the police moved in, in what I think was quite a reckless manner, they took management completely away from the stewards.

“They brought the water cannon in too quickly, we should have been allowed to keep order," he insisted.

In the wake of Tuesday’s violence the Orange Order called on the Parades Commission to ban all future protests at Ardoyne.

A spokesman said the latest rioting proved that the Commission’s policy of “constantly appeasing" hardline republican residents by granting them the right to protest at Ardoyne was “threatening the stability of Northern Ireland and putting the lives of police officers at risk".

Journalist:: Ciaran Barnes

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