In the wake of the riots, which followed the march by the Orange Order and its loyalist supporters past Ardoyne on the 12th night, Sinn Féin MLA Kathy Stanton said the nationalist community was left with a feeling of anger and betrayal.

Kathy Stanton, along with her colleague Gerry Kelly, were part of a group, which calmed frayed nerves and feelings of emotion among Nationalists who felt that yet again their rights were being ignored.

Along with stewards Kathy Stanton confronted the PSNI and the wall of shields held by the British Army to get them to shift positions.

Her goal was clear: get the situation sorted out with as little violence as possible, and get everyone calm. Although in the end this proved harder than she expected.

“Things were pretty quiet and Nationalists were holding a peaceful protest with no upset until the heavy military presence started to move in,” said the Sinn Féin MLA.

“That was around 4pm and that’s when everything started to go wrong.

“The lorry loads of steel and hundreds of jeeps moved in. The batons and the shield came out facing us. The water cannons were facing us. People knew then, that the PSNI were going to force the loyalists up the Crumlin Road past Ardoyne.

“People began to think the Orange Order is walking all over us again.

“When the lodges had marched past, and the empty buses came through, we knew that was it.

“The PSNI made no effort even to begin to stop them.

“The abuse started to come over when the supporters started to walk up Crumlin Road.

“They were chanting and it was basic triumphalism really.

“It annoyed people to think that here we are a decade and more on from the ceasefire, and 35 years since the RUC led the loyalist assault on Hooker Street, we’re supposed to be treated as equals, and they didn’t feel that was the case.”

Minutes later disturbances broke out between Nationalists and the British army. Calm was restored after 15 minutes as community and political leaders intervened.

“I have to say if it wasn’t for the stewards and all their work I really think that lives would have been lost,” Kathy Stanton said.

“At the very least I think that live rounds would have been fired into the crowd.

“The stewards were working hard to calm down the young people, and I have to say the adults too, because everyone was so angry and frustrated.

“There’s been good work going on between our communities for a long time and now it’s been put back years. Community Relations have definitely suffered.”

Around 11pm everything had calmed down and the crowds had more or less dispersed according to Kathy.

At the same time the reality of who let this happen sunk in.

“The buck stops with Paul Murphy [the Secretary of State]. He allowed this to go ahead. People in Ardoyne don’t want to live under those conditions, they are not prepared to let it happen again.”

Journalist:: Staff Reporter

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