Loyalist Rioting in Belfast

Loyalist Paramilitaries are being blamed for the serious rioting last night in the Crumlin Road area. Reports tell of 10 cars and a bus being hijacked and set alight, petrol bombs being thrown and 40 police officers being hurt.

The trouble followed the arrest of 6 men in connection with the ongoing loyalist feud, in which three men have already been murdered.

Police in riot gear went to the scene, and 11 baton rounds were fired.
Northern Ireland’s criminal justice minister David Hanson condemned the violence.
“Once again it is loyalist paramilitaries who have brought violence into loyalist areas,” he said.

  • fair_deal

    1. This is completely unacceptable behaviour. It contributes to a cycle of decline for the area. As for the claims of police brutality Paisley hit the nail on the head when he said
    “If people in North Belfast have genuine grievances against the police, then I and my party colleagues in the constituency are more than happy to take up their cases but there can never be any excuse for attacking the police in this way.”
    2. The republican poster who claimed that the use of baton rounds at Ardoyne on the 12th July showed an anti-nationalist bias in the PSNI should now withdraw this false claim.

  • Yoda

    But can anyone tell me why the crowd rioted?

    I mean, why would they riot if six men were arrested for their involvement in the on-going loyalist feud?

    What was the point? Political or recreational violence?

    If the loyalist paramilitaries can whip up a riot whenever they need one in unionist/loyalist areas, it must mean that they still have both support and sway in these communities.

    How many rioted (the Beeb doesn’t say)?

    To burn 10 cars, 1 bus and injure 40 police officers, there had to be a sizable crowd.

  • jim

    The uvf is widely supported within the area were the riots took place.

    Local residents are obviously livid about the arrest of 6 of their own men so they expressed their distaste by hijacking cars and firing petrol bombs.

    This community rioted because they support the uvf and therefore support the actions of the uvf.

  • fair_deal

    Yoda

    Paramilitaries have significant support in Woodvale. Membership and support is not universal but is sufficient that if they want to have a riot they can.

    Membership of loyalist paramilitaries has grown over the last decade especially among young people.

  • Yoda

    Cheers FD.

    Any sources/ figures for the trend you cited?

  • art

    Why should we invest taxpayers money into these communities when the residents are happy to wreck their own areas and support drug dealers and criminals

  • fair_deal

    Yoda

    There are no ‘official’figures. It is based on personal experience from doing youth and community work in Loyalist areas.

    Art

    “when the residents are happy to wreck their own areas and support drug dealers and criminals”

    1. Not all the residents support paramilitaries or the riots.
    2. It is not healthy for a society or sensible short, medium or long-term policy for government to just abandon areas.

  • bertie

    Residents in areas where these thugs operate and who do not support them have been let down too much already.

  • art

    But many residents support these people and those involved are residents also.

    One only had to witness the shows of strength at 11th night bonfires within these communities to see the very considerable support the paramilitaties have.

    The residents of Garnervile are a prime example.

    The majority of residents welcomed the uvf into the area when they forced alleged lvf residents out of the area.

    If they decide to start burning buses and firing blast bombs because the psni move against the uvf paramilitaries in the area are we supposed to feel sorry for them.

    You make your bed…

  • bertie

    As long as many doesn’t mean all they need to be protected from this scum.

    Even then, although I understand your sentiments, I’m with fair-deal on this we can’t let an area be given over to total lawlessness.

  • scuseme

    “2. The republican poster who claimed that the use of baton rounds at Ardoyne on the 12th July showed an anti-nationalist bias in the PSNI should now withdraw this false claim.”

    Why should he?

    It may only take a few months before the state focuses on a new enemy.

  • Gum

    No Fair deal, that poster may have a point. The rioting on the twelth was disgusting and completely unwarrented, but the police opened up fast. Did you hear the copper interviewed on Goodmorning Ulster on friday morning? He said that the situation was so serious that the police actually issued a warning that if it didnt stop they would fire batton rounds! Issued a warning?

  • fair_deal

    scuseme

    “It may only take a few months before the state focuses on a new enemy.”

    So in less than three weeks the PSNI has gone from an anti-republican organisation to an anti-loyalist organisation? That must have been a quick indoctrination process. Or is the comment a pitiful attempt to justify MOPEry even when events show it to be rubbish?

    Gum

    The republican poster specifically said the PSNI did not use baton rounds against loyalist rioters only republicans. This has been shown to be untrue.

    “but the police opened up fast”

    1. The request to use baton rounds was declined 8 times.
    2. AFTER multiple blast bombs were thrown permission was given.
    3. The issue of a warning is a further example of police reluctance to use them.
    4. The Ombudsman has criticised the PSNI for being too slow to deply them.

    Art

    “The majority of residents welcomed the uvf into the area when they forced alleged lvf residents out of the area.”

    1. If true what about the minority who want nothing to do with them? Are they to be abandoned?
    2. No one asked the residents of Garnerville what they wanted. I think if they were asked do they want UVF control, LVF control or none? None would be popular.

    “If they decide to start burning buses and firing blast bombs”

    I am pretty sure there wasn’t a meeting of local residents that decided to have a riot it is much more likely a paramilitary group took the decision.

  • art

    “No one asked the residents of Garnerville what they wanted. I think if they were asked do they want UVF control, LVF control or none? None would be popular.”

    Quite a number of residents were interviewed on television about the situation, they welcomed the actions of the uvf in moving into the area to take control.

    I heard no condemnation from within the area about the uvf take over.

    It was reported in the yesterdays Newsletter that a senior uvf member has now taken over the drug trade within the Garnerville estate

    If residents were happy to welcome the uvf into the area they will just have to live with the consequences.

    The psni did not seem to concerned by the move, considering their response to the uvf take over.

  • Comrade Stalin

    If anyone is not convinced that the DUP does not act as the political wing for loyalist paramilitarism, it is only necessary to read their initial reaction here.

    The DUP responded to a riot where public property was destroyed and police officers attacked, by blaming the police for “heavy handed” methods and undermining “community representatives” – you know those people who nobody votes for and weirdly have the power to turn rioting on or off – I thought going by the ballot box the DUP were the community representatives ? Anyway. It took a full day before the party leader intervened to issue a rather equivocal condemnation of the actual rioting. But even so the language used by Ian Paisley, rather than calling for the complete dismantling of paramilitary organizations, instead pleads pathetically with them to kindly stop their nasty behaviour which is damaging “their own” community.

    Why can’t unionist leaders just condemn loyalist activity outright, and call for the organizations to be shut down and the protagonists arrested ? I know why – because support for loyalists in these neighbourhoods is strong. To attack them would cost votes.

    There are a lot of arguments here about the levels of support that loyalists have. Having been told several times that loyalists have no support because they have no votes, I hope that people are now beginning to understand that tolerance of paramilitarism is not necessarily reflected at the ballot box. When political leadership appears to justify rioting by blaming the police, in the way that the DUP did, paramilitaries will understand that they can expect their political leadership to make excuses for them rather than take action against them. This only illustrates to me how the two governments need to make it clear that they expect all of the parties, not just Sinn Fein, to be unequivocal about paramilitary violence and require all parties to condemn it from whereever it emanates.

  • bertie

    Art

    “Quite a number of residents were interviewed on television about the situation, they welcomed the actions of the uvf in moving into the area to take control.

    I heard no condemnation from within the area about the uvf take over.”

    The nature of intimidation being what it is we can not take this as conclusive that the residents all ALL in cahoots with this scum.

    The IRA weren’t above putting pressure on people to perform for the cameras, I don’t suppose this crew will be over burdened by scruples either.

    Even if the people shown were speaking their minds (sic), that still doesn’t mean that those silent were in agreement. It is harder for those people in the areas to speak out against those who are intimidating them. The rest of us need to be doing that.

  • fair_deal

    Art

    I am beginning to wonder if you are being deliberately obtuse

    “Quite a number of residents were interviewed on television about the situation, they welcomed the actions of the uvf in moving into the area to take control.”

    On UTV four women were interviewed. On BBC one woman was interviewed (she was also part of the four interviewed on UTV). Hardly quite a number. Is it beyond the bounds of possibility that the UVF might have pushed forward for interview people to support their actions?

    I outlined three options – UVF, LVF or none. During that weekend the residents were only given a choice between the UVF or LVF.

    “I heard no condemnation from within the area about the uvf take over.”

    There are hundreds of men and youth wandering your area. They have been responsible for the intimidation of a number of families in the area. I am sure giving an interview condemning what was going on would lead to happy results.

    “It was reported in the yesterdays Newsletter that a senior uvf member has now taken over the drug trade within the Garnerville estate”

    I read that too. This would then undermine your claim of resident support. The residents interviewed said the supported the UVF’s action because of drug-dealing by the LVF. If the UVF are drug-dealing it has reduced the basis of support.

    “The psni did not seem to concerned by the move, considering their response to the uvf take over.”

    The PSNI failed to act against the LVF in Garnerville. The PSNI failed to act against the UVF in Garnerville. The PSNI in east Belfast doesn’t want to do its bloody job. It seems to think its time is better spent in hopeless cases against Orangemen than deal with paramilitaries and criminals.

  • Comrade Stalin

    fair_deal, unlike Art I do not expect people to come out in public against paramilitaries, but I expect their political leaders to do so.

    bertie, you may not like this, but the paramilitaries (on all sides) have sufficient support in the communities to dominate them. I think the critical mass to achieve this total control is quite high. By the way, support for paramilitaries does not necessarily mean hanging a flag out your window. If you use them to take care of law enforcement problems or ask them to settle disputes between neighbours, or if you buy your pirated DVDs/CDs/cigarettes off them, then you count as one of their supporters. Unfortunately I think you’ll find that this number is a pretty big majority.]

    fair_deal, I agree broadly with your final paragraph regarding the police. The trouble with the police though, is that they’re stuck in the middle. They can’t take stiff action against rioters or crowds of thugs, because the politicians will come on and knock them for using heavy handed tactics and disrupting community relations (like the DUP and Sinn Fein do). Also, they must behave fairly similarly in loyalist and nationalist inspired situations otherwise they will be accused of bias. On the other hand, when they sit back like the politicians ask and allow the “community representatives” to control things, they get condemned for allowing the paramilitaries to take control.

    The police cannot do their job without proper support from the political leadership, which they are quite frankly not getting from either SF or the DUP.

    [the behaviour of the media isn’t exactly stellar either. Whenever Stephen Paul was shot dead last week, most of the media including the BBC and Belfast Telegraph wrote extensively about what a bad man he was. Whether or not it is true, the problem is that news reportage like that only serves to justify paramilitarism even if that was not the intention from the outset. On the other hand the Sunday Life seems to sell quite a lot of newspapers reporting on the antics of our loveable old rogues, clearly there is a market out there for people who want to see into the lives of NI’s hard men through rose-tinted glasses… ]

  • lib2016

    I’m with fair_deal. Surely republicans have proved that the only methods which will work in the longterm are political ones.

    We know what the solutions are for impoverished and deprived areas. They include higher taxes to pay for intervention in high-risk cases before the age of two and help right through childhood with education and life opportunities.

    When are our politicans going to start spelling that out? The DUP was supposed to defend the interests of the workingclass loyalists – time it started to work with republicans to do just that.

  • Dougie

    “The IRA weren’t above putting pressure on people to perform for the cameras”

    Isn’t that the truth! From the black and white footage of the old ‘RA “checkpoints” (loved those, very effective) to the more modern and colourful riots (complete with the latest football tops), the provos did have some great directors over the years. The only shame is the lack of recognition of those artists, I’m angry that there were no nominations. Speilberg has nothing on some of these talented men, and who knows women too.
    Hopefully we will know more about them when some of the SF politicians pen an official biography.

  • Hallion 24-7

    Whenever I’m feeling low and need a laugh, I turn on the VCR and have a look at the old black and white footage of those checkpoints. Better than any comedy on Sky.

  • Baxter

    Hallion tell the truth, did you have a cameo in one of the check-point scenes?

    Its ok to tell us now, you may be able to cash in on some fame.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Money does need to be targetted at allieviating poverty and providing money, but that cannot occur while the paramilitaries continue to exist. Until they are gone, they will suck the life out of any community they are involved in.

  • art

    bertie

    There are many ways of expressing your disapproval or discust at the actions of paramilitaries other than walking out your front door and shouting at the boys in baseball caps.

    Newspapers provide one such outlet for expressing your disapproval, you don’t have to sign your name at the bottom of a letter in the letters page of a newspaper.

    I have read nothing from any member of the Garnerville community regarding their objections to the uvf controlling their area.

    Nor have i heard a public representative voice the concerns of the Garnerville community about the uvf control.

    The fact that the people of the Garnerville area are making no representations to anyone regarding the uvf actions, i think it is fair to presume that the community is happy with the uvf controlling their area.

    If the uvf decide to do an lvf in the future(as now seems to be the case), the residents of the area have no one to blame but themselves.

    Are these people not aware that the uvf have been killing people for the last 35 years, not to mention the drug dealing, extortion and prostitution.

  • bertie

    Comrade

    “bertie, you may not like this, but the paramilitaries (on all sides) have sufficient support in the communities to dominate them. I think the critical mass to achieve this total control is quite high.”

    You may well be right. I am from a nice middle class family brought up in the Fermanagh countryside. I have never had to live under that sort of control. So this is largely theorising on my part. However I wonder how high the actual support has to be as long as it is perceived to be so.

    “By the way, support for paramilitaries does not necessarily mean hanging a flag out your window. If you use them to take care of law enforcement problems or ask them to settle disputes between neighbours, or if you buy your pirated DVDs/CDs/cigarettes off them, then you count as one of their supporters.”

    In theory I would agree totally with this but again I wonder how much of this is forced on people. If you are having your life destroyed and for some reason you feel you cannot go to the police and getting these people to put their malign influence to bear in what may happen to be a just endeavour could help, what do you do? I would like to think and, indeed I do think, that there is nothing that could bring me to validate these people’s authority but I can’t be 100% sure. It would still be wrong but people should not have to be in these situations in the first place. Even buying stuff off them could be from fear. The bottom line though is while there is even one “innocent” person in there, they should be liberated and even if there arn’t, we can’t as fair-deal says “just abandon areas”.

    “The trouble with the police though, is that they’re stuck in the middle. They can’t take stiff action against rioters or crowds of thugs, because the politicians will come on and knock them for using heavy handed tactics and disrupting community relations.”

    This is part of what makes the truth of “a policeman’s lot is not a happy one”. It’s rough, but I expect the police to carry out their responsibilities even if it is unpopular.

  • bertie

    Art

    don’t get me wrong, I understand and share your disgust at those who don’t mind and even support their presence.

    Not everyone would even think of writing to the papers. You need a combination of confidence that you would write something that would get published and that even if you did, that anyone would pay any attention.

  • fair_deal

    CS

    I agree that Unionism must talk more often of its desire for loyalist paramilitaries to go away. However, in the middle of a feud a call for disbandment just seems unrealistic -stopping murder and intimidation would be a start.

    “The trouble with the police though, is that they’re stuck in the middle.”

    1. Welcome to policing in a divided community. The best way to shut up critics is results.
    2. If someone is committing a criminal act there is next to no middle ground (beyond officers discretion)

    As for the politicians if a constituent complains and provides evidence of an abuse by a state body or its representative then they should act on that complaint to ensure it is thoroughly investigated. It is a basic form of accountability of state bodies.

    I thought the DUP statements were interesting as it is the one of the few times were a unionist politician went beyond condemnation/saying it is wrong but going on to outline the alternatives to violence – the official complaint mechanism and political representation.

  • Brian Conway

    It would be amusing, if not so terrible sad, to read that Paisley’s plea to the mob to stop the violence was couched in terms that it was their own property and community they were destroying.
    Am I to conclude that he would have been silent had it been the other community that suffered from their violence?

  • joe

    I think part of the problem is that some sections of unionism seem to close their eyes and pretend that loyalist paramilitarism does not exist.

    They seem unable to comprehend that a large proportion of people within working class areas support loyalist violence and support the paramilitaries.

    We also have the problem of elected unionist representatives treating the paramilitary leaders as normal, whether it be in the North & West Belfast marching forum or at the hill at Drumcree.

    There is nothing normal about blowing the head of a 19 year old man as he lies in his bed.

    There is nothing normal about drug dealing or prostitution.

  • Comrade Stalin

    fair_deal:

    “However, in the middle of a feud a call for disbandment just seems unrealistic -stopping murder and intimidation would be a start.”

    That attitude is not consistent with the attitude that unionism has towards the IRA. Apparently we have to wait two years before we can even think about having Sinn Fein in government, and nothing short of complete disbandment is acceptable.

    bertie:

    “In theory I would agree totally with this but again I wonder how much of this is forced on people.”

    Nobody is forced to buy pirate DVDs or cigarettes.

    Brian Conway, exactly my point. It all implies that the rioting would be OK if it was someone else’s community being torn up. The language that unionism uses in it’s tippy-toe condemnation of loyalist activities is a subject one could write a book on. The other day, Nelson McCausland referred to a feud murder as “disappointing”. I bet he wouldn’t have used such a tame and inoffensive word to describe the murders that took place when the fish shop on the Shankill was bombed.

  • stan

    The problem with these scumbags is that they have never worked a day in their lives

    One only has to look at the television coverage of these young men, lazy good for nothings whose highlight of the day is putting on a baseball cap and wrapping a linfield or Glentoran scarf round their face before leaving their rent paid housing executive homes to collect their dole.

  • cladycowboy

    fair_deal

    ‘The PSNI failed to act ‘

    ‘The PSNI in east Belfast doesn’t want to do its bloody job. It seems to think its time is better spent in hopeless cases against Orangemen than deal with paramilitaries and criminals’

    Swap a few words and this could be in your own terms the ‘demented utterances of a shinner’.

    How beautiful is the light of relativity, benefactor of the covenant.

    Orangemen. Paramilitaries. No connection whatsoever. Yep. Lets bury our heads for another few centuries again.

  • fair_deal

    cladycowboy

    FACT: The PSNI in east belfast continued to investigate complaints by the Parades Commission against individual members of the OO over parade forms even after they had received legal opinion making it clear the OO members had done nothing wrong.

    If you think investigating non-crime is more important than drug dealing fair enough.

  • DavidH

    Brian Conway: Paisley’s plea to the mob to stop the violence was couched in terms that it was their own property and community they were destroying.
    Am I to conclude that he would have been silent had it been the other community that suffered from their violence?

    He was trying to get rioters to stop rioting. He used words and concepts that might have worked – and that includes an appeal to self-interest. I doubt a sermon on ‘Love thy neighbour’ or an oration on the ‘principles of non-violence’ was going to achieve anything. He wasn’t dealing with high-minded or analytical folk.

  • Brian Conway

    David, that’s precisely why Paisley will never be a leader. He was appealing to the lowest and most selfish instincts in the loyalist mob. Just once, and I mean just once, it would be nice to see Paisley rise above that himself.

  • Comrade Stalin

    DavidH, do you really think that the people out burning out buses are cars are listening to the radio waiting for some politician to tell them to stop ? For that matter, do you think Ian Paisley believes that ?

    People who riot and engage in anti social behaviour quite simply need the law and due process to be properly applied to show them that there is a cost. The trouble with our society is that we are effectively telling criminals and paramilitaries that there is no cost. We are telling them that they are entitled to be asked politely to stop rioting, and it is their prerogative whether they listen. To hell with that – send the police in and make mass arrests.

  • DavidH

    Brian Conway: Just once, and I mean just once, it would be nice to see Paisley rise above that himself.

    Comrade Stalin: To hell with that – send the police in and make mass arrests.

    Am I dreaming? A nationalist wants more preaching and thundering from Paisley, with less cajoling. And a socialist(?) demands a tough security response to community unrest. Has the IRA statement changed the situation that much?

    Comrade Stalin: do you really think that the people out burning out buses are cars are listening to the radio waiting for some politician to tell them to stop ?

    If it doesn’t work this time, it might have some effect for next time. What arguments does Gerry Kelly use on the front line, by the way?