14 July 2005

Loyalists launch Lenadoon raid


By Francesca Ryan

THERE were scenes of violence when trouble broke out between loyalists and nationalists at the Suffolk/Lenadoon interface.

Over 100 loyalists carrying knives, iron bars and one wielding a samurai sword, poured across the Stewartstown Road into the nationalist Lenadoon estate at around 1am on Tuesday and hand-to-hand fighting ensued.

Gerard O'Neill, a Sinn Féin councillor who was present at the time, explained to the Andersonstown News what happened.

“Myself and three others were standing in the opening to Doon Road facing Costcutter to ensure there was no trouble. It had been a very quiet night up to that point, there was nobody around. Next thing a taxi pulled up, its windows had been smashed and the driver claimed he had been attacked on Blacks Road. Before we knew what was happening there was a band of people coming towards us from the other side of the Stewartstown Road."

Councillor O'Neill estimated that 100 people had gathered across the street hurling missiles, including rocks and bottles, whilst around 30 more entered the Horn Drive area via an open gate which runs along the side of Woodbourne barracks.

“With all the noise these loyalists were making, residents soon came out of their homes to see what was happening, then it was just mayhem. One of these loyalists, who had a t-shirt over his head, was taking swipes at people with a samurai sword in Horn Drive and others had iron bars."

The PSNI arrived and parked their Land Rovers in the middle of the road to keep the crowds separated and an uneasy peace descended.
One officer was injured by a stone before calm returned.

“As far as sectarian tension goes, this place is usually quiet enough," said Councillor O'Neill.

“Right up until I saw these people, the whole estate was fairly silent and then it all happened out of the blue, it was a bit surreal. We haven't seen the likes of it in a number of years. Bizarrely, the PSNI were herding nationalist residents further back into their own estate rather than moving the loyalists out of Lenadoon," added the councillor before adding that he was convinced that the trouble was organised.

“These were not kids, they were grown men and I'm pretty sure they weren't all from that small estate on Blacks Road. I think other people may have come from elsewhere to join them in what appears to be an orchestrated attack on our community.

“I don't know why this happened, relations are usually fairly cordial to some degree between the two communities," said Cllr O’Neill who went on to appeal for calm in the weeks ahead.

The PSNI confirmed an incident had taken place in the area
“Police received a report at about 1am that a group of young people were throwing stones in the Stewartstown Road area.

“It is believed that rival factions totalling 12 youths were involved. A group of about fifty persons were also noted in the area and were monitored by police.

“The police received a report at 1.15am of a disturbance in the Woodbourne area and while responding to this report, one officer received a minor head injury when he was struck by a stone."

Journalist:: Francesca Ryan

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