Irish Time

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Irish Republican Newsflash





Newsflash: Unionist intimidation and violence continue


 Trouble has broken out again in Belfast this evening after more than a
 thousand loyalists, including a number of masked paramilitaries,
 marched to the city centre to demand the Union Jack flag be reinstated
 year-round atop Belfast City Hall.

 The march followed days of violence directed against the offices and
 homes of the Alliance Party and its councillors.  The party's votes on
 Belfast city council were crucial in reducing the flying of the British
 Union flag at City Hall from 365 days a year to 15 royal events and
 other designated days.

 The change of policy has inflamed the larger unionist parties and
 right-wing elements in Britain. Today's march had clear fascist
 overtones, and culminated with crowds cheering the burning of Irish
 tricolour flags by masked individuals.

 It was supported by the unionist parties, the right-wing UKIP and the
 extreme-right BNP parties, and forced shops and the city's Christmas
 market to close.

 Rioting broke out later as marchers returning to east Belfast burned
 out a car on the Newtownards Road and threw stones at the PSNI police
 near the nationalist Short Strand.

 Last night, there were also serious clashes in the Shaftesbury Square,
 Crumlin Road and Ligoniel Road areas of Belfast, as well as
 disturbances in Newtownabbey, Bangor, and Lisburn. Water cannon were
 deployed to douse burning cars.

 Also last night, the loyalist paramilitary UVF were widely blamed for
 disrupting a large Christmas event in Newtownabbey, north of Belfast,
 after a number of vehicles were set on fire close to Mossley Mill.

 Six hundred people, including many children, were trapped inside
 Newtonabbey council buildings as loyalists burnt cars and rioted.

 The DUP has been widely blamed for motivating the violent protests.
 Today, the party refused to condemn the burning of the Irish flag at
 the protest in Belfast city centre.

 The PSNI has said it accepts that loyalist paramilitary groups have
 been involed in orchestrating the disorder in Belfast and in the nearby
 towns.

 Sinn Fein Assembly member Gerry Kelly has stated that "political
 unionism", meaning the DUP and the Ulster Unionist Party, "must exert
 itself, show leadership and work to end this situation".

 "Political unionism has failed," he said. "It has sent muted words and
 mixed messages which has seen loyalism come on to the streets and a
 continuation of road blocks, riots and intimidation for nearly a week
 now.

 "Within the space of this week we have seen attacks on Belfast City
 Hall and Alliance party members homes and offices, death threats
 against elected representatives and many protests turning violent."

 The north Belfast representative said there was "nothing new" in the
 current scenario.

 "We have seen the orchestration between political unionism and violent
 loyalism many times before when they did not get their way," he said.

 "We saw it in 1969, The Ulster Workers Council strike, the Anglo Irish
 Agreement and Drumcree to name a few occasions.

 "But times have changed. Belfast is a shared city. It needs to
 represent all sections of the community that live in it and not have
 one identity stamped over all others. Unionism needs to accept the need
 for, and the reality of, equality."

 He said that mixed messages from unionists, such as demands for
 increased British flag flying at Stormont, was not showing leadership
 and would not de-escalate the situation.

 "We need to see much more from unionist political leaders at all levels
 of representation across the north.

 "They must exert themselves by standing firmly against the ongoing
 situation and taking real and meaningful steps to end the violence and
 intimidation on our streets."



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