Eleventh night violence was carried out by nationalist youths in New Lodge area of north Belfast, press reports

According to press reports, violence in north Belfast over the weekend was carried out by nationalist youths in the New Lodge area.

By Philip Bradfield
Sunday, 12th July 2020, 7:07 pm
Updated Sunday, 12th July 2020, 7:35 pm
Police Service of Northern Ireland officers in riot gear carry out searches in the New Lodge area of Belfast. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Police Service of Northern Ireland officers in riot gear carry out searches in the New Lodge area of Belfast. Niall Carson/PA Wire

There were no reports that loyalists had engaged in violence in the area.

PA Mediapoint reported that police came under attack “from petrol bombers in the nationalist New Lodge”. The Sunday Life/Belfast Telegraph website reported that the Eleventh Night celebrations “were marred by attacks on police by nationalist youths in north Belfast” and that assembled media were pelted with bottles and eggs “by rioters from the nationalist New Lodge area”.

Speaking after a second consecutive night of disorder in north Belfast, Superintendent Lorraine Dobson said: “It is extremely disappointing that last night [Saturday] we saw such disorder on our streets where our police officers once again came under attack from youths throwing petrol bombs.

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“Just after 5pm, we responded to a report that a crowd of youths were starting to gather on North Queen St, some of whom were armed with bottles.”

Petrol bombs were thrown at police on Queens Parade and New Lodge Road. As officers attempted to engage with youths in the area they came under attack by youths, some of whom were masked and threw bottles and masonry, she said.

A Belfast Telegraph photographer on the ground tweeted that riot police were “advancing through the New Lodge area on a group of youths throwing bricks and bottles”. He praised local Sinn Fein councillor JJ Magee for being on the scene.

The councillor replied that the photographer’s pictures were “not reflective of the good people of New Lodge”.

Sinn Fein MLA for the area, Caral Ni Chuilin, tweeted: “Anyone who riots, wrecks their community, terrorises their neighbourhood need to face court.” She added that the local loyalist bonfire was too close to the interface.

Asked if violence had only come from nationalists, police said inquiries were ongoing.

First Minister Arlene Foster has condemned sectarian messages on bonfires as well as the violence.

The PSNI confirmed that bottles, masonry and a “number of petrol bombs” were thrown at officers throughout Saturday evening in Queens Parade and New Lodge Road in north Belfast.

Some of the most offensive messages on some bonfires, also condemned by UUP MLA Doug Beattie, related to the late senior republican Bobby Storey.

Ahead of the Eleventh Night fires, politicians and community leaders had urged people to avoid mass gatherings and stick to Covid-19 regulations that limit outdoor gatherings to no more than 30 people.

Crowds well in excess of 30 were witnessed at some of fires that were lit late on Saturday night.

Mrs Foster said she regretted that some people did not follow advice from the Orange Order to stay at home for the annual July 12 celebrations.

She also condemned the violent scenes in north Belfast, and criticised those who placed sectarian and offensive messages on the loyalist bonfires.

“They really need to take a look at themselves and ask themselves what sort of a Northern Ireland do they want to live in – do they want to live in a Northern Ireland where everyone is entitled to proudly celebrate their culture and identity, or do they want to live in a split Northern Ireland?” she told the BBC.

“I know certainly the one in which I want to live in, it’s one where we can all proudly celebrate but do so in a way that is not offensive and certainly not sectarian.”

PSNI Superintendent Lorraine Dobson said it was “extremely disappointing” that officers had come under attack for a second night, urging parents and guardian to take control of minors.

“Damage has been caused to a number of our vehicles but, thankfully, none of our officers were injured,” she said.

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