Paramilitaries behind mob violence

Published Saturday, 08 December 2012
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A police chief says loyalist paramilitaries orchestrated some of the violence which erupted following a flag protest in Belfast city centre on Friday night.

Paramilitaries behind mob violence
A car on fire during trouble at a protest in Belfast city centre. (© UTV)

Eight PSNI officers were injured during trouble in the Shaftesbury Square, Crumlin Road and Ligoniel Road areas of the city.

Three were taken to hospital for treatment and were later discharged.

Bottles and other missiles were thrown at police during the disturbances, while a number of cars were set alight.

Two men aged 18 and 19 were due to appear at Belfast Magistrates' Court in relation with the disorder.

"Police can now confirm loyalist paramilitaries are orchestrating some of the violence we have seen in the past 24 hours," Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr said.

"Violence has serious and unwanted consequences for us all and we will robustly investigate all incidents."

ACC Kerr previously described the disorder as "mob violence" which he said was "unacceptable".

We are warning anyone who does engage in criminal activity that they will face the full rigours of the law.

Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr

But former UDA leader Jackie McDonald denied paramilitaries were behind disorder at Belfast's Sandy Row.

"There's absolutely no paramilitary involvement in the violence here last night," he told UTV.

"There were people from the Woodstock Road, Donegall Pass, the Village... Strangers are running about this place because of Facebook messages, and the people of Sandy Row are getting the blame.

"Obviously some of the young people in the area get involved in it but they were not behind it," he added.

Trouble also flared in the O'Neill Road area of Newtownabbey as a crowd of around 70 people blocked the road and attacked police with bricks and masonry on Friday night.

Two petrol bombs were thrown at police vehicles, which were damaged during the disturbances.

Eight men, who were arrested by police following the disorder in the area, have been charged with various public order offences.

Five men are due to appear at Belfast Magistrates' Court on Monday. A 16-year-old boy is due to appear at Belfast Youth Court on Monday and a 17-year-old teenager is expected to appear in January.

The latest trouble erupted in the wake of a Belfast City Council vote which restricted the flying of the Union Flag over City Hall to 17 days a year.

Nationalists wanted to remove the flag altogether but the Alliance Party, which holds the balance of power, put forward the motion which was passed.

A total of 28 police officers have been injured in loyalist rioting since Monday's vote, while a number of Alliance Party representatives and properties have been targeted.

Up to 2,000 people took part in a major loyalist flag protest in Belfast city centre on Saturday afternoon - which was expected to be the busiest shopping day of the year.

Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr had appealed for protesters to stay away.

"Let people get on with every day business such as Christmas shopping," he said.

"Today I am urging everyone to be calm, take a step back and think about how this violence is affecting not just their own communities but the whole of Northern Ireland."

© UTV News
Comments Comments
21 Comments
john in london wrote (683 days ago):
The people of Britain+uk do not want n.Ireland...period...stop embarrassing our. Flag!
Danny in Ulster wrote (683 days ago):
@Dee in Glengormley - do you really believe all that tripe you talk? Over 30% of the PSNI are catholic now and you think they "facilitate and encourage loyalist protests" I think you need to go and see your doctor because your medication is wearing off...
rosemary in ballymena wrote (683 days ago):
the violence is being caused by mindless youths who will use any excuse and the police do not help, they encourage it. everyone stresses that all protests should be peaceful and urges STRONGLY all trouble makers to stay away. the BRITISH people protesting for OUR RIGHTS DO NOT want violence OF ANY SORT and all leaders are working together to make sure this is heard and doing all they can to keep protests peaceful, give credit where its due and stop blaming the protesters, we didnt cause this situation, Belfast council did
Dee in Glengormley wrote (684 days ago):
The police need to take a good look at themselves. The problem is though they wont. They need to be held accountable on the policing boards for their inaction and complete abdication of their civic responsibilities. The undeniable truth is that there is no willingness among the PSNI to robustly police these loyalist protests. They facilitate them rather than police them. And what compounds this is that the loyalists know this and thats what makes them brazen and bullish. They know the police, at worst facilitate them, at best tacitly encourage them. Its a legacy of the abnormal political situation weve had here since the birth of N Ireland where the police were basically the armed wing of the ruling UUP who mis-ruled this placed for 50 years before Westminster recognised their sectarian nonsense and pulled the shutters down on them. The simple fact is there is no appetite among the PSNI to properly police this criminality because put succinctly too many of our police share the same mentality as those out waving flags, painting kerbstones and burning Irish flags. Go read a good decent objective history if you doubt that!
william in coleraine wrote (685 days ago):
paramilitaries alloew riots on their say only.just like up in ardoyne they are always behind it
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