The chairman of the Protestant Coalition has stood over his comments about Friday night’s Belfast violence being “justified” — but insisted that he was only referring to those “defending” themselves with violence.
As reported in yesterday’s News Letter, Sam McCrory wrote on the internet disagreeing with someone who had said Friday’s violence was wrong. He said it was “justified”.
Yesterday, the north Belfast Orangeman told the News Letter: “The word justified to me means: if you’re being beaten and you’re being pushed to the ground and beaten and kicked without any provocation from yourself, then you are justified in defending yourself.”
Mr McCrory claimed that “90 per cent” of those on Royal Avenue had peaceful intent and said that there had been no violence at his protest — which was the last in a line of six protests and close to the entrance of CastleCourt.
When asked what he thought of the people who tore up bricks from the pavement to throw at police and who had come armed with fireworks, marbles and smoke bombs, he said that he didn’t see any fireworks, and added: “Violence in my mind is uncalled for if it’s just basically for violence and to get nothing out of it. There’s people nowadays who would basically take a violent route without knowing what’s at the end of it.”
Asked whether violence would be acceptable if someone had a plan in mind, he said: “No. No. But we’ve seen how some people have gained in Northern Ireland through violence. They’re sitting in the highest position... they would say themselves that their violence was justified because it paid off for them in the end.”
Mr McCrory had also said that the police “rightly” took “a very good beating”. He defended that comment by claiming that the police were beaten in response to police violence.