Irish American Information Service

07/13/04 11:39 EST

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has hit out at the Police
Service of Northern Ireland following violent scenes in
North Belfast last night.

Commenting after the PSNI forced both the Orange Order and
its followers past Ardoyne shops in breach of the Parades
Commission determination, Adams said: "The PSNI tonight
forced both the Orange Order and hundreds of supporters past
Ardoyne shops in direct defiance of the Parades Commission
determination. The British Secretary of State Paul Murphy
allowed a deal to be done which was in direct breach of the
original determination. I had earlier in the day warned Mr
Murphy of the potential consequences of going down this road
and I have tonight again spoken to Mr Murphy and left him in
no doubt about what we think of his actions."

Adams praised the "discipline" shown by republicans
throughout North Belfast and Ardoyne in in the face of what
he termed the "very serious provocation" from the Orange
Order, unionist paramilitaries, the PSNI and British Army."

Nationalists ignored the restraining efforts of senior
republicans at the flashpoint Ardoyne shops in north Belfast
and attacked PSNI and British army lines that were
separating them from Orangemen and loyalist hangers-on who
the Parades Commission had said could not follow the Orange
Order past the Ardoyne shops area.

The trouble flared after about 300 loyalist supporters of
the Orangemen, who were returning to Ligoniel and
Ballysillan in north Belfast last night, were allowed to
parade past the Ardoyne shops.

Nationalists argued that this contravened a Parades
Commission ruling that only the Orangemen should parade past
the shops, and that their supporters and band should not
accompany them.

The police and British army mounted a huge security
operation at Ardoyne shops. Metals screens 15 feet high
separated the Orangemen from about 3,000 protesting
nationalists. Several hundred police and soldiers in riot
gear separated the two sides as the Orangemen marched past
the shops shortly before 8 a.m. local time.

Some nationalists fired golf balls, stones and bottles over
the barrier while loyalists returned fire. Five minutes
later, when the Orange supporters were pushed past, there
was a further, more serious exchange of missiles.

Generally, however, republican stewards were able to
maintain order.

Such was the fury of the nationalists that senior
republicans such as Mr Gerry Kelly and Mr Bobby Storey had
great difficulty restraining the crowd. Mr Kelly told the
protesters that he understood their anger but that there was
little point in engaging in violence.

There were a number of baton charges. Republicans also
maintained their efforts to calm the situation which finally
led to a semblance of order. The situation, however,
remained very tense in Ardoyne last night.

An angry Mr Kelly blamed the police and British government
for the trouble, saying they had contravened the commission
ruling by allowing the loyalist supporters past the Ardoyne

The Irish premier, Bertie Ahern, described the rioting in
the Ardoyne area as "regrettable, distressing and disappointing.

"I know that considerable efforts had been made in the
run-up to the march to defuse tensions in the area and to
try and avoid such trouble," he said.

"Officials remained in contact with the communities involved
throughout this process. Nevertheless, it is clear that
there would have been even greater violence had it not been
for the restraining influence of community and political
leaders on the ground."

SDLP leader Mark Durkan today backed away from claims that
his party would consider its position on policing. Speaking
after last night's violence Mr Durkan said the Parades
Commission had been undermined by the police decision to
allow Orange supporters to pass.

Yesterday, his party colleague Mr Martin Morgan hinted the
SDLP would review its position on the Policing Board and the
District Policing Partnerships if the Commission's ruling
was not adhered to.

But Mr Durkan refused to go that far.

"There are bigger issues here at stake than just whether or
not the SDLP take a particular attitude in relation to
policing overall based on what we believe was a mismanaged
situation yesterday," he said.

"We are on the Policing Board to hold the police to account
for their performance and we will be holding the police to
account for their performance. I think the Parades
Commission is undermined and put in a difficult position in
the way in which decisions were taken yesterday," he said.

"We were not meant to get ourselves into a situation where
key decisions about what was going to happen in relation to
parades would be the situation of uncertainty and rumor."

Mr Durkan said the police had argued that the Parades
Commission decision did not deal with the question of what
was going to happen to the supporters afterwards.

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